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Shugyo polishes away the rust/tarnish of the body. It makes a person a bright sharp sword, which is, of course, what a person desires to be. This requires consistent, continuous and relevant, efficient and effective training, practice and hands-on realistic experience.
This brings to mind that state of mind of one who is expert in self-discipline. No matter the title, i.e., a master of tea ceremony, etc., all have the general fundamental meaning and the term used is, "Muga." A word used in a cult of Zen Buddhism.
The training involved leads to experiences whereby one acts and thinks, "with no break, not even the thickness of a hair" between one's will and one's actions. If one fails to achieve expertness then there is a lager chasm between the thought and the act, i.e., the difference between triggering the lizard brain vs. the human brain whereby the latter requires a longer span from thought and action making the OODA faulty.
This is called, "the observing self or interfering self."
To bridge that self or gap one must use appropriate reality-based adrenal-conditioned training and practice regimens to achieve effortless instantaneous appropriate actions bypassing the human mind and directly triggering the lizard brain.
You have to learn and practice the physical while training and practicing the psychological and you must learn "muga." To practice in the dojo start with a level floor, concentrating on a few inches of surface to support one's body. Gradually raise the standing room until one can stand easily on a four-foot pole/piller. When perfectly secure on that pole/pillar, the student then "knows." His or her mind will no longer betray him or her by dizziness, vertigo or any fear of falling.
Another favored methodology to help the practitioner to "know" are the Zen Koan, the problems introduced to the practitioner. None are meant for rational solutions. This is part of the mental/psychological training in expertness, i.e., to "Know."
What the also begin to "know" is, "That goals and objectives may be achieved or attained with present means if the eyes of one's spirit are opened, i.e., anything is possible, and with NO help from anyone but oneself."
The underlying philosophy of Muga is the belief and concept of as if one is "living as if already dead." This state of mind eliminates all the self-watchfulness and by that fear and circumspection. He becomes dead, who have passed beyond the necessity/requirement of taking thought about the proper course of action.
Therefore one can say, "I will live as if I am already dead," as meaning one's complete and utter release from conflict. All my energies are free to pass directly to the completion of my purpose. One's self-observation and its burdens are no longer an obstacle between self and goals or objectives. This allows a state of positive relaxation thus removing stressors, strains and tensions. All things become possible.
Muga-mushin [無我無心 (selflessness)]
The first two characters/ideograms mean, "no self; selflessness; self-effacement; anatman (no-self, the Buddhist concept that in nothing does there exist an inherent self, soul, or ego)." The second two characters/ideograms mean, "free from obstructive thoughts; innocence." The four characters/ideograms means, "mind devoid of obstructive thought." The first character means, "nothingness; none; ain't; nothing; nil; not," the second character means, "ego; I; selfish; our; oneself," the third character means, "nothingness; none; ain't; nothing; nil; not," the fourth character means, "heart; mind; spirit."
Muga mushin is the state that the warrior seeks when the mind and body are free to work together wholeheartedly as one, a holistic state of mind often referred to in modern times as a "present moment mind." This is believed in martial circles as a state that exists when training is complete, whole, and one enters into a void.
It is a necessary test of body and mind to find out what a person will do when that point rears up and blocks progress. Does one push past it and what are the intent and reasons for pushing past a certain point are all questions that must be answered in training and practice - before you are tested by the fires of violence.
As a Marine, inactive status, we were trained to and past that point if for no other reason than to find out what we are truly made of, capable of and to open our mind to the fact that what we think may be our limitations and extend that to a point that makes 'our point of no return is faster, better and more capable' than the person attacking you. There are no obstacles except death, for being a Marine is being a person whose limitations can only be set by that point in which the body, mind and spirit leave us due to no other reason but, "death."
In training and during my active duty as a Marine I came to understand that the only way I could be hindered in the path I followed is if I let my mind accept the unacceptable and as a Marine that was not going to happen. I have met my enemy and he is myself and trained and practice and applied my skills both old and new to surpass any possible pitfalls, obstacles or obstructions that could possibly hinder my progress.
One of those concepts with a wonderful mystical term in Japanese that speaks to practitioners taking their training session to its limits and then setting higher limits above and beyond perceived limits is called, “Shugyo [修行].”
We train occasionally to exhaustion also because when we are in the mix of protection-n-preservation that adrenal stress-conditioned situation often bleeds our energy levels quickly so we have to learn to feel that level of exhaustion where our arms will barely raise up in defense, etc., leaving us vulnerable to more damage from an attack.
In another way of seeing shugyo, it should be the type of experience that consistently and accumulatively adds to the challenges of each instance, i.e., in short, once you experience the first challenge always make the next one more demanding and more intense than the last. If it is not at least this type of challenge then it can never be truly shugyo, austere training.
Seishin Shugyo [精神修行者]
Seishin and the first two characters/ideograms mean, "Mind; soul; heart; spirit; intention." The first character means, "Refined; ghost; fairy; energy; vitality; excellence; purity; skill," the second means, "gods; mind; soul." Note: See the shugyo entry for that word and set of characters.
The Okinawan's believe that Seishin Shugyo or spiritual training is the "training that comes first." They use a phrase, i.e. Oku Myo Zai Ren Shin," that has a meaning that, "in order to find the secrets, one must first have spiritual training." It is also said, "Polish the heart through the polishing of technique."
This adds more meaning to "shugyo" and its importance to the study, practice and training in the art of karate-jutsu, the Okinawan art of the empty hand.
Shugyo [修行] The characters/ideograms translate to, “Ascetic practices (Buddhist term); training; practice; discipline; study.” The first character translates to, “Discipline; conduct oneself well; study; master,” the second character translates to, “Journey; going.”
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