Please take a look at Articles on self-defense/conflict/violence for introductions to the references found in the bibliography page.

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When you begin to feel like you are a tough guy, a warrior, a master of the martial arts or that you have lived a tough life, just take a moment and get some perspective with the following:


I've stopped knives that were coming to disembowel me

I've clawed for my gun while bullets ripped past me

I've dodged as someone tried to put an ax in my skull

I've fought screaming steel and left rubber on the road to avoid death

I've clawed broken glass out of my body after their opening attack failed

I've spit blood and body parts and broke strangle holds before gouging eyes

I've charged into fires, fought through blizzards and run from tornados

I've survived being hunted by gangs, killers and contract killers

The streets were my home, I hunted in the night and was hunted in turn


Please don't brag to me that you're a survivor because someone hit you. And don't tell me how 'tough' you are because of your training. As much as I've been through I know people who have survived much, much worse. - Marc MacYoung

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The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books. Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.


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Mokuso in the Dojo

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Mokuso, often thought of as the moment before and after training in the dojo. A time to clear the mind for the training and a time to reflect on that training is completed in the dojo. Did anyone ever tell you about mokuso, what it is for and what you do to achieve a state of mokuso? Hmm, first we have to know what constitutes mokuso in the dojo, is it a traditional form of dojo training and where did it come from? 

I remember when I first entered a more traditional dojo where I was required to sit seiza then perform mokuso. No one taught me how to sit in seiza, I had to observe and work it out on my own only to find later I was not exactly correct. No one told me or taught me how to perform mokuso except to say it was a form of meditative practice where we cleared our minds of the days trials and tribulations and opened our minds to accept the nights training and practice. 

At the end of every dojo session we again sat to perform mokuso but to contemplate what we had been taught that night, to go over in our minds the lessons and then to commit them to memory - all in a silent sitting seiza in a assumed meditative way.

Since mokuso in my years of training, practice and experience has never been truly discussed, taught and trained I thought I would present what I discovered and created as a model to train toward a state of mokuso. So, to start I want to translate the term and its Japanese characters/ideograms then provide my personal definition as to how this works on the dojo floor. 

Mokuso, the characters/ideograms are as follows, [黙想]. The translation of the characters/ideograms I use translate the two characters/ideograms to mean, “Meditation; silent contemplation.” The first character is translated as, “Silence; become silent; stop speaking; leave as is,” and the second is translated as, “concept; think; idea; thought.” 

In a very fundamental, rudimentary, way this translation tells us that mokuso is about meditation and the silent contemplation of something. That something in this case deals with dojo training. It would seem that in order for that to work the dojo Sensei must have an understanding of both the mokuso and his or her goals as to what one is to silently contemplate whether to clear the mind or to reflect. I have issues with clearing the mind since it is not explained how one achieves that state of mind-no-mind. As to reflecting on the training, I am not a fan of that one either because simply contemplating on what you remember tends to make it incomplete and open to interpretation of a mind that may or may not have the experience, knowledge and understanding to ensure correctness, proficiency and understanding of the lessons and concepts. Yet, most dojo and their Sensei simply say, sit mokuso and meditate to remove the trials and tribulations of the day. I often wonder what is going on in the minds of those practitioners during those often all to brief moments. 

Yes, they are often taught to sit seize or kiza; yes they are taught how to close the eyes while holding to a correct erect posture and they are told to contemplate and reflect as appropriate but what is actually going on. I have asked from time to time, especially those who are now senior practitioners with higher grades in confidence and they say almost to the person, “I just sit there silently and wait till Sensei says to turn and bow, etc.” None of them could articulate any type of process to enter into and achieve a higher state of awareness the world often refers to as a state of self-hypnosis. 

I have written a short article about mokuso when used with what they term, “Mitama Shizume, i.e., what they believe is the quieting of the soul.” Here again, how and what process is taught so the practitioner can actually so-called quiet his or her soul and what is meant metaphorically as the soul? You can read that article here by clicking this link. (click the link then scroll down to the terms, “Mokuso [黙想] with Mitama Shizume [御霊],” or use the find function once you get to the page.)

Mokuso is about training the mind to meditate toward a self-hypnotic state where one’s mind becomes heightened toward a greater awareness of the mind, the state of mind and the entire environment around you. This includes being more aware of and sensitive to our minds workings, our bodies sensations along with sensory system input and output data along with what is around us in what ever environment we are in at any given time. Can you see how this short, terse, explanation, in general, also opens up the possibilities to how this very training is also about learning, applying and experiencing our martial arts and karate in and out of the dojo? 

You just cannot sit seize, close your eyes and meditate. No one naturally, like breathing or blinking our eyes, meditates. You really have to have taken lessons on meditation and then to have practiced the processes to achieve self-hypnotic states of awareness to do this so if you don’t have the background, understanding and experience in meditation you must not assume just because you sit as told and then when prompted to meditate, you meditate unless you have the credentials, i.e., experience meditating. 

So, if you have never been trained in meditation; if you have no real experience under the guidance of a program, discipline and teacher of meditation; and if you want to achieve a state of awareness that will advance your mastery of martial arts and karate or any other discipline for that matter then you want to find someone who will provide you with what you need to, “Meditate.” 

What I am going to outline is something I have used and it will help you make mokuso a better contributing part of your training, practice and studies. So, lets begin with an outline of mokuso as it might be used and taught in the dojo. After that we will get into some particulars on how to achieve that meditative state of awareness. 

In the Dojo:
The last one has some nice graphics to help understand the seiza-kata of mokuso. This is not meant to teach you the full skinny on how this is done but to provide you information toward a level of understanding so you can seek out a qualified teacher who knows how this is done. 
  • Teach and educate each practitioner on the process of how to enter into, maintain and benefit from a state of self-hypnotic acute awareness that opens the more unconscious, the primal dark mind, lizard brain where our instinctual, primal conditioned responses, originate in applying our discipline. 
  • Make mokuso a lesson and dedicate the time to learn it, to practice it, to achieve that state and to become proficient enough so that one can achieve the state in a matter of minutes then use it in a more condensed but experience oriented way. In other words, it takes about thirty to forty-five minutes of practice each day, in and out of the dojo, to achieve some proficiency before you can bring it down to five to fifteen minutes of mokuso before and after each dojo session. 
As you can see, by this model it takes considerable time to actually achieve understanding and beneficial ability in using mokuso. It means one needs to use this to better their abilities of mind, body and spirit in both the philosophical way as with the more physiokinetic methodological way of martial arts and karate. 

What I mean is this, we all know what visualization is and how professionals tend to use it not just in practice but in preparation of participation in the discipline itself be it in a performance; be it in experiencing it in a competitive way; be it in achieving higher enlightened ways of Taoist like practices. This mokuso, this hypnotic state of acute awareness and this visualization or use of visual-imagery is what mokuso is truly all about. A process before and after training and practice that prepares you to absorb, encode, understand and then apply those lessons to our very lives be it academic in nature, philosophical or in protection against conflicts and violences of all type3s. 

Notes to consider about self-hypnosis (quotes from “A Practical Guide to Self-Hypnosis” by Melvin Powers):
  • It is about leaning how to achieve a receptive state of mind.
  • It involves suggestions, how you suggest to yourself things to achieve your goals.
  • It is about visualization or visual-imagery.
  • It is understanding that thoughts have both harmful and helpful effects on our emotional and physical health.
  • It teaches us that suggestion plays a tremendous important role in our daily lives.
  • When you couple “hetero-hypnosis (hypnoses of others by  you)” and “Self-hypnosis” you provide the opportunity of utilizing suggestions for your own benefit any time they are needed.
  • It is about understanding that whether called autosuggestion, positive thinking, meditation, yoga, affirmations or self-hypnosis, we are, in reality, talking about the same thing. 
  • It is about understanding that the hypnotic state is a period of extreme awareness in which the subject is hyper-acute. An altered state of awareness with his or her faculties and reasoning ability intact. Inducing hypnosis is merely creating a mood or state in which the power of suggestibility are heightened.
  • Why it works in mokuso, i.e., Pictured images are more effective than words. Visualize with words to get a 3D technique. 
    • Form a picture in your mind.
    • Imagine a movie screen and that you are the actor on screen.
    • Visualize yourself on screen, in a movie, acting as you desire to act. Act and look the way you want to act and look.
    • Now create a scene in real life with you looking and acting the way, part, you want to look and act. 
    • Follow through and be consistent with your application of visualization, it is necessary to achieve your goals and create your self-hypnosis system. A steady application of technique is needed, in time success comes due to persistence in practice. Expect setbacks, recount already made progress and keep practicing. 
  • Mokuso is meant to make use of a visual-imagery technique: Painting a vivid picture of the person you want to be through constant repetition (conditioning).
  • It is the use of direct thinking, picturization, positive thinking, suggestions and constructive thoughts or images to your inner self or real-self. Conditioning the deep mind. 
  • Lastly, yet not the end, one must remember, the key to achieving greater depth of hypnosis lies in visualizing yourself going deeper with each attempt and accomplishing progressive hypnotic tests. keep this in mind.
How to achieve a state of acute awareness or a self-hypnotic State (also derived and slightly modified from process in the book, “A Practical Guide to Self-Hypnosis” by Melvin Powers):
  • STEP ONE:
    • Self-analysis to determine reasonable goals. Use a visual-image of yourself going into the hypnotic state. The visual-image becomes clearer as you constantly apply the technique/suggestions.
    • Important that one repeat all suggestions with the first person of, “I.”
    • Once in proper seiza.
    • Choose a point to fix the eyes. 
    • Breathe deeply, slowly, diaphragmatically while repeating the word, “Sleep” on the inhale; “deep sleep” on the exhale until you become drowsy. While drowsy, say, “My eyelids are becoming heavy and tired.” Eyes will close with this method. 
    • DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MEMORIZE THE EXACT PHRASEOLOGY FOR ANY OF THE TESTS.
    • Practice step one until you achieve a state where it is uncomfortable to keep the eyes open. 
  • STEP TWO:
    • Suggest to yourself, “I will fall into a deep, sound, hypnotic state like sleep.” Keep repeating until your eyes close. Use a visual-image of yourself going into the hypnotic state. The visual-image becomes clearer as you constantly apply the technique/suggestions.
    • Suggest to yourself, “Even tho in the state of hypnosis, I am aware of my environment and able to direct post-hypnotic suggestions to my subconscious.”
    • As your eyelids become heavy, or when they begin to water a little, intensify the feelings by repeating all your affirmations/suggestions so that the techniques will reinforce the feedback.
Practice step two and practice until you achieve eye closure. The best time to practice step one and two is when falling asleep at night. This promotes a shift of conscious to unconscious states so your suggestions are encoded/absorbed into your subconscious. 
  • STEP THREE:
    • The key to greater depth of hypnosis lies in the use of visual-imagery technique.
    • See yourself going into hypnotic state deeper and deeper. 
    • Picture yourself using the V-I technique, passing various progressive hypnotic tests. 
    • Give yourself a post hypnotic suggestion that each succeeding attempt will put you into a deeper state as a result of a given stimulus - such as your count to three. 
Now, since I am not really qualified to teach a process of self-hypnosis I won’t try to do the whole thing in an article. Consider the above merely academic information necessary to seek out the method. Yes, you can learn how to do it yourself and the book I mentioned above is an excellent source. I also recommend the book, “Mind Control Master, by Jeffrey Powell,” as a supplement to the first book mentioned. Since no real harm comes from learning how to meditate so that you can utilize visual-imagery processes you can’t go wrong. I do recommend you find someone who teaches, qualified, meditation practices in a self-hypnosis way, direct or indirect is fine. 

Then, add it to your dojo training programs because in the end this process will enhance your training, practice, studies, understanding and ability to apply it beyond your imagination. It will put meat on the bones of mokuso so that instead of an empty skeletal mokuso you will have a fully embodied meat, sinews, cartilage, mind, body, spirit in-depth process and practice you will find useful for “EveryTHING!”

Bibliography (Click the link)

Answering some questions if you are interested for the article ended on the last paragraph: 
  • Is mokuso about clearing the mind?
    • Yes, and no; it is about training the mind so that one can move the mind from those daily trials and tribulations but in a positive and effective way through a form of self-hypnosis. So, indirectly, by filling the mind with suggestions as well as visual imagery to achieve this state of acute and full awareness that opens the deep dark lizard mind it does push out those daily thoughts, etc.
  • Is mokuso about reflecting on training completed in the dojo?
    • No, simply because that leaves way to much to chance in learning and understanding. One of the reasons, especially in the kyu and early dan grades, one must learn, train and practice in a  group dynamic that utilizing the exchange of information constantly so that the mind can analyze and synthesize proper, correct and effective understanding and practices especially in martial arts and karate and especially when it involves self-fense. 
  • Did anyone ever tell you about it, what is means, and what it takes to practice it?
    • I can only answer that for me, you have to provide answers for you and remember those are your questions, your answers and to your benefit when done. Often, as in my case, no one will tell you anymore than what they were told and more often than not that is nothing or nothing much. 
  • Did anyone tell you the process to sit mokuso?
    • Sitting seiza I would say, mostly and as to true mokuso, not so much. 
  • Is mokuso a tradition of the dojo?
    • Mokuso is meditation and the culture of both Japan and Okinawa, along with the parent of martial disciplines as to China’s influences, yes. It comes from the cultural Zen Buddhist influences over the years of history of culture and beliefs. In regard to Okinawan karate as it was taught to the military in the fifties, sixties and later, not so much. In the Okinawan dojo I am aware of and that can be gleamed through what history is available mokuso didn’t exist, at least as it pertained to the military students. 
    • Students came into the dojo then, dressed accordingly and then practiced a set of basic techniques posted on boards. Then when ready, they were taught by more senior students on kata, drills, etc. The more philosophical aspects were not taught but eluded to when leafing after a year with a presentation of the ken-po goku-i, etc. 
  • Does traditional/classical practice and training have mokuso?
    • In Japan, both historically and in modern times, it depended on the dojo, the system and the chief teacher but in most since it was more about the culture being in the dojo rather than exclusive to the dojo and martial arts it was there in one form or another. At least as far as research can determine one way or another. 
  • When and where did mokuso come into the dojo?
    • Not sure, in the United States it came and was adopted as most things are, when it was observed in other dojo or systems as more systems and styles were learned and imported to the America’s. This goes for many things, such as the term and teachings of what we call bunkai, they are discovered and presented, thought of as cool and relevant and then adopted by just about everyone in most cases because it is cool and seems to be beneficial. 



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