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By Jikishin Kobudo, Dec 13 2013 12:00PM

The Doko-Dao (Dokkodo) means "The Lone Way" and was written in 1645 by the legendary Miyamoto Musashi one week before his death. No doubt aware of his imminent mortality, the Doko-Dao serves as a final message to his disciples and loved ones alike.

Considered by many as the greatest fighter of all time, Musashi's last written words have great significance to the world of martial arts, yet the Doko-Dao has been seldom translated into English. This most recent translation from the original kanji, perhaps offers new insights into the mind of this great man in a way that has been previously inaccessible to those in the west. Though the exact meaning behind these words can be debated, one thing can be certain: Musashi died as he lived, with nobility and discipline.

The Doko-Dao

1. The world does not deviate from the way

2. You should not seek to only make your body happy

3. Do not announce to others your feelings

4. Do not be self-centered, consider what is best for the world

5. Lifelong, do not consider your ego

6. I do not regret my final health

7. In balance, do not have jealousy

8. When the time comes, do not be hurt by departure

9. Do not complain to others

10. Do not show care through hugging

11. Do not encourage likes and dislikes in your heart

12. Do not seek a luxurious home

13. When alone do not eat luxurious food

14. Do not keep handed down family possessions

15. Do not eat or drink too much to become wreckless

16. Tools of the soldier, are not the best tools of the way

17. In Dao, do not be afraid of dying

18. In old age, do not care for land and fortune

19. Worship Buddha without seeking it

20. Though the body is dead, do not abandon a warrior's reputation

21. Often, leave the art of warfare, for the way

By Jikishin Kobudo, Sep 20 2013 11:00AM

Zanshin Is a term frequently used by martial artists to describe a state of mind that will benefit martial ability, but what does it mean?

If we look at the etymology of the word we see that it is composed of two kanji. The first (Zan) is a character commonly used in Japan to describe those with a disability, whilst (Shin) is the character for heart.

So how does 'disabled heart' become "awareness"?

(Zan) is better understood of we consider it to mean 'not fully achieved', 'hesitant' or 'cautious'. Though this may not be a politically correct way to describe people with disabilities, we can understand why during less enlightened times this character may have gained its current usage. A preferred definition for the martial context is 'non-committed' or 'aware'.

(Shin) is more than just a character used to describe the physical heart comprising aorta and ventricles, it can be more poetically used to refer to the 'soul', 'spirit' or the 'unconscious mind'. Similarly in the west we will refer to somebody as a 'braveheart'.

By fighting with an "Aware Mind' (Zanshin) a martial artist is less likely to make mistakes.

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