The mind of a fighter

By Shino Wilberg

Shihan / 5.Dan Acudo Ryu, Sensei / 2.Dan Judo

In this article I shall share with you my thoughts on how the mind of a fighter should work.

This is a representation of the ideal fighter, something we all should strive to measure up to.

The mind of a fighter should be like a calm lake.

When a fighters mind is calm, he (or she, but for convenience I’ll use the term he further in this article) will be able to react more decisively in a fight. He will be able to read the fight more accurate, with a greater chance of winning.

When a fighters mind is calm, he will be more aware of his surroundings, and be ready for multiple attackers.

The Japanese term for this state of mind is Mushin, or No Mind.

High level fighters, as well as well-trained security operatives and soldiers recognize this fact and train on their specific skillsets to the point that they become reflex actions. This way they can focus on other things, such as their surroundings.

Another trait of a fighter’s mindset is the inherent courage of a well-trained fighter. As a fighter, the greatest external manifestation of a fighters mind is the way he conducts himself in battle. Does he go forth, braving the adversity/danger, or does he shy away?

As a fighter, it is OK to be afraid; in certain situations it will actually help you. Fear will help you be more alert, and sharpening your senses and reflexes. The problem is when you let the fear take over, and you freeze.

Courage means to be able to confront your fear, and overcome it. To do the right thing even in the presence of danger and fear.

Now this is the point where I have to clarify one thing: DO NOT TAKE UNNECCESARY RISKS!

If you are trying to help someone in danger, do not do anything without first thinking it through. It does no one any good if the person trying to help, also get injured, or gets in the same peril as the one he was trying to help in the first place.

Now, when we read the old texts, like Miamoto Musashi’s Book of five rings or Sun Tzu’s the art of War we learn that there are more to being a fighter, a warrior, a soldier than just mastering the fighting arts, you also need patience, and a willingness to adapt to any situation that arises, not being stuck to one single plan. This is more easily accomplished in combat if the fighter has Mushin.

Miamoto Musashi also said that one should not be afraid of death. Even thoug I, for personal reasons both agree, and do not fear my own death, but we can interpret this to mean that the fighter should be confident in his actions, devote himself in his attacks, and not second-guess himself or his choices.

If he fails, a fighter will recognize this as an opportunity to learn and grow, this equals to the accumulation of experience.

For great self-development as a fighter and warrior, I recommend that you read both the book of five rings and The Art of War.


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