Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Who can wait quietly while the mind settles?
Who can remain still until the moment of action?
Lao Tzu

Trust. Lao Tzu believed that the ancient masters were characterized by their ability to trust and remain patient. They would remain unmoving until the right action became apparent. How about you?

As you know, Martial Arts requires good timing. A block arriving too late or too early is ineffective. Timing is ruined when the Karate-ka pushes too hard to make a technique work. Trust is important here. As you learn to trust, not only your training, but trust the moment itself, timing arrives naturally, organically, almost appearing mystical in nature.

When a technique develops organically, the next action inevitably suggest itself. It arises and happens as naturally as an apple falling from a tree. Does the apple let go or does the tree?
When confusion about what to do, cultivating the patience to allow the confusion to settle down is paramount.

Nonin would often talk about our mind being like a jar of water and sand. When the water is stirred it becomes muddy. The mind is confused and cannot see what to do next...but when you trust and stop stirring, allowing the sand/mud to settle, what needs to happen suddenly becomes clear.

Trust is essential. Without it your training becomes mechanical and eventually listless. Nonin gave me the Dharma name of Shinzen. Shin means Trust. My Dharma name means to Trust Zen. Nonin recognized in me the need to develop more trust in my life. I tend to be rather cerebral and Nonin was pointing me in the direction I needed to move by giving me this name. (which by the way I didn't like when he presented me with it...boy, was I was the best name he could have given to me).

So, trust your martial training. Practice over and over the simple moves of Sanchin, Tensho, Seisan, Kusanku or any Kata for that matter. Trust the training and trust they will take care of you if and when the time to use them occurs. Trusting has made a big difference in my Martial Arts progress. I believe it has helped move me from being an analytical paint-by-numbers (or kick-by numbers) artist to one who can just simply draw free-form and produce wonderful works of art. I truly believe Trusting leads to transcendence of the technical and gives truer freedom to the practice of the Martial Arts.

The more I have trusted my training I find that no matters what an opponent throws at me there is always something there for me to take advantage happens naturally and free of pre-meditative thought. It happens from Trust.

In Gassho,


  1. Ties in nicely with the "Freedom within Structure" concept :)

  2. Interesting, our posts seem to mirror one another. Great post Shinzen Sensei, or should I say, the Sensei that needs to trust in Zen!

  3. Thanks...I noticed the similarities too.