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November 2, 2010

Mind-Sword-Body- Oneness

This usually refers to making a unified action with all three acting as one for a clear purpose. Each part is clearly performing one task, which is in harmony with the others. No part has to compensate for any other. The idea of ki-ken-tai-ichi can be applied to wide variety of actions like swinging a golf club or throwing a training partner. Let’s take the obvious exemplar, using a sword.

What is the clear purpose of the whole?

Bringing a critical amount of force to bear on your enemy before they do the same to you is the purpose when using a sword.

What is the clear purpose if each component?

Ki /spirit: Engage your spirit in this one action; do not flit to past or future actions. Considering motivations, possible outcomes or technical points is not engaging your spirit in one action.

Ken/sword: in stillness or motion the sharpness of the blade seeks out the target, it does not waiver from the path to its goal (See Book of the 5 Rings on postures)

Tai/body: the whole body is moved in unison to drive the one clear action, there is no extraneous movement

What is needed to be able to achieve ki-ken-tai-ichi?

Sincere practice to forge the technical skills, determination to commit your resources instantaneously and the focus to stay on your chosen course of action are what’s needed.

Practice for the individual parts

Ki /spirit: An isolation exercise (e.g. zazen) or by forging the mind in an environment where lack of concentration is weeded out (e.g. randori, see Kano’s writings on the purpose of randori).

Ken/sword: Tamshigiri (testing the quality of the blade by cutting), suburi (continuous repetition of basic strikes) and weapon sparring may help one-purpose-sword.

Tai/body: The body needs more forging and maintenance than the sword to be fit for its purpose. Your fitness should not interfere in your ability to perform an action. This fitness begins with flexibility (especially in the hips) to comfortably go through the full range of motion required. After flexibility the particular body movements can be ingrained.

Link between the three parts and related pracitice:

Mind -> (Body-Sword): There is no delay between thought and action. Developing reaction times by reacting to varying stimulus e.g. paired kata where uke-daichi dictates the rhythm. (See John Boyd’s OODA loop)

Body -> Sword: The actions of the body drive the sword. The delay between the start of the driving force of the action (body) and the tool it is expressed in (sword) should be minimised. Heavy work like digging with a pick and suburi with a heavy bokken can help build this feeling.

Body -> Mind: You must be familiar enough with your own body so that any change in stimulus (e.g. loss of balance, appearance of a threat) is instantly recognised.

Sword -> (Body-Mind): any movement of the sword should be seamlessly reflected in the action of the body. One example of the importance of this is continuing an attack after the initial strike is parried. “Putting your sensitivity in the sword” / “using the sword like an extension of your body”

When the three are inseparable:

The true action should exhibit “synchronised sincerity.” No gap should be felt between the sword body and mind by the you or an external observer.


From → martial

  1. Peter permalink

    thanks for the Link Kev I hope you get a lot of feed back

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