In Japanese the word zanshin is made up of two separate kanji (残心) meaning remainder, heart. This has taken the connotation for modern martial artists of maintaining perfect awareness and presence with all your heart, or the ever-remaining mind. Zanshin contains mental, physical and even spiritual elements the warrior develops to maintain proper vision and awareness, while at the same time maintaining an indomitable presence and posture in the eyes of others. Zanshin allows a person to implement and flow from one action plan right into another, based on feedback almost invisible to the untrained eye.
One of the cardinal rules in combat is to never turn your back to your opponent. This physical posture of zanshin is demonstrated during self-defense when the warrior maintains a fighting posture and attention directly towards the threat until absolutely sure it has been neutralized. At a higher level, one learns to maintain this presence in all360 degrees by developing a heightened sense of awareness and through the knowledge of understanding probable reactions in all situations. This same process is used when dealing with any problem we encounter in life. If one faces their problems and deals with them early, while staying aware of other potential threats, success is more easily attained.
The true warrior uses a wide-screen view that takes in every detail of information.He develops the uncanny ability to understand all motives and tactics of all stakeholders, and eventually learns to predict the future before it happens. He learns to understand subtle nuances, which can indicate motivations and strategically maneuvers the situation to the desired outcome, based on the reality of the situation that many people never even see.
In business it has been stated to understand the truth, all one needs to do is follow the money trail to understand the motivation, and most of the time this is indeed a fact. Many times, what most people recognize as a problem is not the real problem at all. The solution to challenges many times come from a completely different direction than we first thought. In addition, many times what is presented to you as an opportunity is just busy work that slows you down from reaching you goals. In any business understanding what the real problems are and offering solutions to these problems through win-win strategies, is where the mission of creating and maintaining a strong customer base is achieved.
The warrior’s ability to see all the systems and the effects of his actions on each one of them allows him to see the big picture. Warriors have long known that the best way to observe the actions of the hands and feet of his opponent is by watching the center and seeing them with his peripheral vision. This same tactic is used when observing, and seeing physical, mental and spiritual capabilities in yourself and others.
When practicing kata, we constantly are reminded about the importance of zanshin in our training. Every time you look before you turn it is a simple reminder to not take your eyes off your goals and to always truly look before you take action. Upon the last move of a kata, we hold that posture for a couple of seconds before we return to the ready position, demonstrating the ever-remaining mind element to zanshin.
By developing zanshin, you will be able to accomplish more in a shorter period, than many people do during their entire lifetime. Zanshin is indeed a crucial principle of martial arts mastery.