Saturday, November 20, 2010

Reading Intentions

One of the greatest skills you can learn as a martial artist is to read intentions...and most importantly, act on intentions. We've all heard of the remarkable ability of the old masters to seem to know what was happening before anyone else. They could read intentions...and just like practicing a side kick or reverse punch, the more you practice the better you will get.

We all have intentions. It is the spark just before a thought and just before an action. But how do you tell the intentions of your opponent? Learn how to see your own first. Here's a meditation to do to get you started:

Sit in a meditative pose with your back straight. Focus on breathing deep in your hara (center).  Now, become aware of the intention to inhale and your intentions to exhale. Feel the energy of intention just prior to each breath. Do this for about 20 minutes a day for 21 days...and notice the difference in your ability to pay attention and feel the energy of intent.

Next 21 days: Begin with noticing your breath's intention and switch to being aware of your intent to have a thought. Be like a cat waiting for a mouse to come out of its feel.

During your day...when you remember...notice your intentions to think, move, breath, etc. Also, begin to see if you can feel other's intentions. Just watch...don't overanalyze.  Play with it in the dojo as well....think of ways you can work with your dojo mate in reading his or her intentions.  I use the word PLAY....don't try too hard. Be loose and listen and watch...and feel.

Hope this makes sense. Think of how reading your opponent's intentions can help you...not only in the martial arts but in life as well.

Hands palm to palm,


  1. The idea of being aware of your own intentions to then read those of other people is very good advice.

    For some reason I thought of an ability I believed I had as a child; to look at someone from behind and have them turn around based on your intent.

  2. Hey TaWan...I used to do the same thing when I was kid. I would do this in church (I was bored)...stare at the back of someone's head till they turned around. Fun! Gave me something to do that was far more interesting.

  3. Liking that, I find that when I try to read intent -other thoughts get in the way, but recently I just let go and seem to be able to read intent much more clearly.
    Going to try that meditation, I am in preparation for my first dan test and this will be helpful.
    Thank you,

  4. Best wishes on your shodan testing BD. Thoughts do arise...thus the meditation on intention of thoughts are on the right track tho..just let go and many things become much clearer.

  5. Great post! Jen and I work with our students on percieving the intent with many lessons...this was a big emphasis of Shihan Foster and has been passed down through our instructors. Thank you for the meditation instruction, it sounds like a great tool to use and pass on to our students in further developing this skill.

  6. Thanks Dan...and you're welcome. I personally enjoy these meditations...not always easy, but worth the effort.

  7. Ahhh, right intention. One of my favorites in the Dharma.