The term “no mind” does NOT refer to those individuals that are mentally impaired. Actually, the words “no mind” refers to a defensive tactic that allows you to move quickly in any direction to counter an attack.
Simply put, “no mind” is the location where you focus your attention before, and during an attack. I have had a story related to me of a warrior so great that falling rain drops wouldn’t strike him unless he allowed them to. This seems impossible but I wouldn’t necessarily discount the story as a tall tale. During my years of Aikido practice, I have seen many things done that previously I would have said were impossible. Today I can do some of those very same things. Given time and a lot of practice, so will you.
During practice, you must strive to relax your body and mind so that you can perceive an attack and react quickly in the proper way. To do so requires the mastery of “no mind”. As an example, if your partner is performing tsuki (pronounced “ski”) at you (a punch to the stomach or chest area), your tendency will be to focus all of your attention on his fist and this will freeze up your mind. You will be unable to react to his attack with any speed or fluidity. If you think, ok, I’ll watch his eyes, then your mind will freeze on his eyes and again you will fail to meet his attack. If you focus on the body, again you freeze your mind on his body, and this will also slow down your reaction. If your opponent has a sword, knife, or gun, your mind will naturally focus on the weapon until you master “no mind”. Focusing on the weapon will allow the weapon to cut you, stab you, or shoot you. Mastering “no mind” will allow you to move around the weapon or be elsewhere when it shoots.
The problems inherent with mastering “no mind” become ten fold with multiple opponents. As you begin to develop your skills in Aikido, you will be faced with multiple opponent situations. The higher Kyu ranks and all of the Dan ranks test with multiple opponents. Developing “no mind” is absolutely essential to advancement in Aikido.
How do you develop “no mind”? There is no easy answer. Each time you are about to do a technique, take a moment to relax your body, take a deep breath and let it out slowly, try not to focus your eyes on any one part of your opponents body. Do not concentrate on anything in particular. Especially, don’t concentrate on what you know your uke is going to do. Try to become aware of all others in your immediate vicinity, using your peripheral vision, the sensation of air movement on your skin and the sounds reaching your ears. Try to remain naturally relaxed. Don’t “concentrate” on being relaxed and alert. If you do so, you will focus your mind and that will freeze your body.
Think about this concept before you begin each workout and remind yourself to work on developing “no mind”. With time NO MIND will occur naturally.
Copyright: 1987 Oscar G. Medina – San Dan Hombu Aikido