WHY STRIVE FOR “MUSHIN"?

Over the years, the Japanese word, 無心 (mu-shin) has been translated in many different ways by scholars, including “No
Mind”, “Empty Mind”, “Clear Heart”, or even “Right Mind”. People are often confused by this language in their quest to
gain deeper understanding of Zen philosophy, since translations of Zen concepts often sound negative and nihilistic.
Take for example, the literal meaning of mushin, “no mind”, what is this phrase really supposed to mean? Are we to think
that this martial arts system involves ‘no thought’ and denying cognition altogether? The reality is that these concepts
are intuitive beyond the restraints of words or reason, and they essentially reside in the boundless potential of the
trained mind. Zen Master Takuan Soho, spiritual mentor to the great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, best described
mushin as the “unfettered mind”. “Unfettered” means ‘unbound’ or free from fixation, while the “mind” refers to our
conscious self. These words together capture the very essence of our ultimate goal in martial arts training.

The Unfettered Mind is the cognitive condition that leads to a non-thinking, but fully conscious, reaction that
addresses any attack or threat without hesitation. The martial artist who achieves mushin has attained complete
control of both mind and body and clear intuition of ‘right action’ regardless of circumstances. Without effort,
without intent, and without fixation, one will not only respond to conflict, but will create an opportunity to gain the
advantage and to defuse the aggression promptly and appropriately.

Mushin clearly seems ideal in a martial arts setting and certainly in a real life-or-death scenario, but it is also
important to apply the Unfettered Mind to life as well. The everyday world is full of conflict and aggression. How are
we to face this? If we understand that the world is a delicate balance of forces and counter-forces, as we know the
physical action and reaction in our techniques, we realize that to face aggression with the same kind of intended
brutality disrupts the balance of nature. Peaceful calm best addresses conflict. That is not to say one should submit
to a person looking to harm you physically or emotionally, but the clarity that results from mushin will help to settle
the conflict without escalating it in the process. So while we have the martial skills at our disposal, we should
choose a peaceful means of ending a threat, and if that threat becomes physical, then we look to disarm and force the
opponent into submission promptly and with no ill intention.

If we let the adrenaline and ego drive our decisions and actions in such a situation, our training has failed us and we
are likely to take things to extremes. Mushin allows us to make clear and level-headed decisions, making us better
martial artists and even better people. This seems a simple task in theory, but poses an enormous challenge for us in
reality. It is for this that we train in the martial arts.

In the Zen tradition, it is believed that those who achieve this level of enlightened thought and action feel compelled
out of deep compassion for others to share and guide them along the path to this wisdom. The great masters of our
martial arts system’s lineage believed that this wisdom revealed itself in many ways. They systematized a path to this
wisdom that was uniquely their own, often imbued with their charisma and particularly representing their enlightened
insight. They did not do this for personal gain but in order to share a profound passion for their discoveries. It is in this
spirit of the Zen tradition that Grandmaster Frank Ruiz founded Nisei Goju Ryu and consequently encouraged his
students, once masters at his art, to continue the process of martial innovation through cross-training. Hanshi Bill
Wendell honors our Grandmaster with the establishment of Mushin Goju Ryu, a system focused on achieving the
ultimate goal through a variety of methods that teach unified principles of philosophy and movement. As for me, I will
stand by the collective wisdom of my masters.

                                                        William Collazo Shihan
                                           4th Degree Black Belt
                                 Chief Instructor, Mushin Goju Ryu
Welcome to Mushin Goju Ryu

Mushin Goju Ryu is a unique combination of Chinese martial art, Okinawan-Te, Japanese Karate-Do and North American
innovation.  The Chinese contribution, which exerted a strong influence, hints of a Wing-Chun techniques.  This type of
Chinese art is well suited for the Okinawan native’s strong, and stocky body type.


The Okinawan-Te, a form of hand-to-hand combat developed by, and unique to, the Okinawan people, contributed the
linear and highly mobile front punching, front kicking, hammer fists and knife hand (the proverbial karate chop)
techniques.  These power techniques substituted for the subtle dim mak (deft touch) used by the Chinese martial artists,
who diligently guard this information and only disseminate it to a chosen few.  The holders of this information are a
combination of martial artists and healers (many of China’s premiere healers are also martial artists).  This is a
safeguard to prevent abuse of this sophisticated and deadly knowledge.  Most Chinese martial artists are not privy to
this information. Giving such information to foreign guests was -- and still is -- forbidden.


The Japanese influence came from Master Gogen Yamaguchi.  He was Japan’s Goju representative and a student of
Master Chojun Miyagi, the founder of the Okinawa Goju system.  He was known as the "Cat", maybe for his long hair, his
cat like breathing, or his cat stance, which has influenced many styles, and strove to balance the soft and hard aspects
of Goju.


Master Frank Ruiz, who co-founded the Nisei Goju Ryu system with Master Harry Rosenstein, who later formed
Kanzen Goju Ryu, introduced the relaxed, natural, and mobile fighting stance as a platform for Karate techniques.  He
was also the harbinger of the back kick, which he perfected and used with huge success in his ten years of undefeated
tournament competition.  Master Ruiz was a genius in his ability to mobilize a rich variety of Karate techniques that were
previously grid-locked by the Martial Art World’s misinterpretation of the relationship between Ancient Martial Art
Forms (Kata) and practical fighting application.


Go means hard and Ju means soft.  The majority of Goju techniques incorporate values of both hard and soft in a single
movement.  The first part of the movement is called the preparation and is done while inhaling, which is always done
through the nose.  This preparatory stage is leisurely and relaxed.  It is done in a state of calm silence.  When the
preparation is fully expressed, the execution begins with an exhale that keeps pace with the speed of execution.  Fast
explosive techniques require quick and explosive exhales.  More elongated, tensioned techniques require breathing
methods that emulate the movement with elongated, tensioned breathing.  Relaxed, controlled slow movements are
accompanied by relaxed meditative inhales and exhales.  Goju styles emphasize breathing done in coherence with the
nature of the movement.  The movement itself is classified as the external expression while breathing is the internal
expression.  This combination of internal and external participation produces coherence.   The simple repetition of
coherent movement promotes brain wave coherence where all five lobes of the brain begin to synchronize.  When body
and mind fusion are achieved, coherent activity is experienced as exquisite joy.


The Goju Coherent Experience promotes proper balance between rest and activity in our daily lives.  Therefore,
meditation (deep prayer) is a natural outcropping that balances out and enriches all activity.  The practice of Goju
becomes a Yoga that incidentally has protective value.  


All properly executed Martial Art movement adheres to exact Newtonian laws of physics that provide maximum result
from minimum exertion.  The Go aspect of most techniques are expressed in a state of free-fall so even the explosive
execution provides an experience of effortlessness.  


I have studied many styles of martial art since the age of 12 with the aspiration of being a Martial Art Superman, but the
path is not what I thought it would be.  Letting go of effort was hard for me because I thought effort was the answer.  I
thought hard, austere discipline was the way – but instead it made me self-righteous and heavy with myself.  I found it
necessary to surrender such pompousness and replace it with humor and simple child-like, joyous innocence.  I imagined
besting great numbers of evil adversaries in glorious combat.  I now aspire to diffuse hostilities with the coherence of a
peaceful and loving presence that dissipates all hostilities before they begin.  After all, they are only reflections of
myself who also once aspired to best great numbers of evil adversaries in glorious combat.  The truly strong are those
who learn to yield.  The greatest power comes from the Loving Creator of us all who reveals himself even through
simple movement and has enough grace to help me learn in spite of myself.


Welcome to the Mushin Goju Ryu (Ryu means family) system.  To find your greatest adversary look no further than you’re
own feet.  To truly know oneself is a worthy accomplishment of a lifetime.  The way of the warrior is to die to oneself.


                                                        With All Due Respect,
                                                       I Remain
                                           William Wendell Hanshi
                                            9th Degree Black Belt
                                          Founder Mushin Goju Ryu