Zen and the Martial Artist

zazenConquerHave you read accounts of Zen monks possessing remarkable levels of concentration, discipline and focus?

Have you wondered why the samurai, the world’s most feared and respected fighters, also practiced Zen?

Of course, it would be hard to find a martial artist who isn’t at least a bit intrigued by Zen. But as martial artists, practical as we are, we do have to ask ourselves  “Is it real and how will it benefit me?”

First, historically, because the samurai consistently practiced Zen, we must acknowledge that it was at least very, very relevant to them (a matter keeping their sanity and a matter of life and death?). But the ‘Last Samurai’ was the late 1800s, and we should now want to know “Is Zen training still relevant today?” And to answer that for yourself, check out this video …

So it seems the US Army feels there is a place for Zen training …

Relevant to the samurai, relevant to the GI, and what about the martial arts student?

I’ve studied both Zen and the martial arts for nearly 25 years. Here’s how Zen training can help you. It’s universal … What’s the biggest impediment to a martial artist? Thinking. When you’re thinking (planning, scheming), you are slow and late and clumsy. And what’s the second biggest impediment to a martial artist? Looking. When you’re looking at someone’s hands you can’t see his feet, every fake is taken as real. And so what’s the solution? You already know … don’t think and don’t look. Simple in concept, but near impossible to accomplish on your own and at the heart of Zen training!

Here at AZC, we are always looking for collaborations with the martial arts community – how Zen can benefit an established martial training regimen.

One such collaboration is a series of 13 week Zen and Aikido training sessions that we hold in cooperation with Both Hands Clapping. The next session starts the week of August 11th. You can follow the link above for more info.unfettered_mind


And so, in order to get a better feel for what you, the martial artist, may be looking for in other collaborations and workshops, we’re looking for your help. Below is a short survey that will help us put together these workshops. Would you help us out, take 5 minutes and complete this survey? And as a little incentive, for every 50 surveys we get, we will draw a name to receive the book “The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Mater to a Master Swordsman.”


The Survey

Thank you