"Zan Shin" – Technique completion with continuous attention

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It is said that the last part in any Aikido technique is very important. It is essential to complete every technique in a state of awareness and continuous attention to any counter attack. This idea is called in Japanese "Zan Shin" or "Continuous attention".

In Aikido, many trainees tend to loosen their attention at the end of the technique, as if giving a sigh of relief when everything is over. This is a natural human tendency, but it is faulty since there could be a situation in which our opponent may choose to attack again.

The "Zan Shin" principle is mentioned in all Japanese martial arts that talk about "the way" ("Do"). For instance in the Kyu – Do art (The way of the bow) this principle is explained in the following way: "Once the arrow has been released, one must not move to the next action straight away. Stay in the launching posture, and take one breath. Watch the launching result quietly, and refresh your feelings towards the launch of the next arrow. This is the deep secret of Zan – Shin".

In everyday life, the idea is linked to "completing everything we do thoroughly" , meaning that when we do something, we must not do "half of the work", but rather complete what one does precisely, without leaving loose ends.

In order to demonstrate the principle of "Zan- Shin", I will add a true story, taken from Ken Okano's diary, a Japanese psychiatrist:

"A while ago, I treated a man that used to visit the clinic regularly, four times a week, early in the morning, before his working hours. One day, after we had completed the session, the clinic's receptionist asked me: ' How do you manage to persist meeting every morning with this man. It seems to me that he is rather obsessive.'  And I answered her: 'It is exactly so. He is obsessive, and so am I, and this is why I continue.' That was a short conversation behind the clinic's counter."

"I assumed that the patient was long ago in the parking lot, but while we were talking I looked up and saw him standing not far away from us, facing the board at the clinic's lobby. I panicked: Has he heard the conversation? And if he did, what did he think about its content? Luckily it seems that he did not hear the conversation. I was very upset for my mistake having this conversation taken in a place where he might have heard it. I want to connect this story to the subject of "the Doctor's Zan-Shin". If, at the end of the treatment, even before the patient has left, I sigh a sigh of relief and say 'I am tired!'  This is exactly the opposite from the "Zan-Shin" concept in Martial Arts."

Ken Okano's story links the Zan-Shin concept to everyday life. It is important to let go and loosen up, but it should be done in the right moment, and even then in total awareness and continuous attention. It is important to maintain this principle in Aikido as well as in everyday life – " The Dojo is wherever you are "

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