‘ Always be ready to release your mind/ The mind must be set free’
As always there are multiple levels to this precept. On one hand, ‘always be ready to release your mind’ may mean that you must train to a point where you no longer consciously think, only react and only then will your body be as fast as it can be. When training, we find at times that when we are trying too hard or breaking a movement down too much, we cannot understand or perform the technique no matter how hard we try. Sometimes it takes until the next training session for the body and mind to ‘mull’ over a move so that it can be achieved. When performing a kata, once you have practiced it sufficiently, the body and muscles know instinctively what the next move is. It’s when the mind starts interfering that the moves are sometimes forgotten and people get stuck.
However, there is also the idea that what Funakoshi means is that the mind must become released or ‘lost’ in later years of Karate practice in order to progress and to grow. To reign in the mind, to follow teaching blindly and not try to seek out your own meanings, takes the mind’s freedom away. To confine the mind loosely as a beginner is necessary, but to do so all our lives prevents us from rising to new levels and will result in a life of unfulfilled potential.
By Karly West