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Fushaku Shinmyō 不惜身命: Mind and Body Like Diamond

Diamond Corridor photo by dickuhne
Hatsumi Sensei's classes are often too crowded to do "large" techniques. Or, to train with weapons that need "large" distances. Recently I was lucky enough to be in a class that was small enough for Sensei to have us using Bo, Yari, and Naginata. Along with the big weapons came some big ideas for training.

He was attaching these weapons to his uke's body or clothing, then moving in a way where the weapon seems to develop a life of its own. He explained he was using a reflection of the attacker. That was a big idea that reminded me of another time when he described 辛抱 Shinbo to us.

 One other large idea he put out there for us came at a moment of evading a yari thrust. He used the phrase 不惜身命 Fushaku Shinmyō. Roughly translated in this context it means sacrificing one's life to accomplish its resolution. It can be related to concepts of Sutemi and throwing away the self.

The roots of this idea come from Buddhism and the Nyorai Juryo Hon chapter of the Lotus Sutra: teaching of devotion that spares neither body nor life.

Some other translations for this phrase read: not sparing one's life for a worthy cause; courageous and selfless dedication; Self-sacrificing Dedication; or to place the cause above one's life.

How do you get to that selfless state? The state where the tip of the spear is no longer a threat and you can move undeterred against the slash of a sword?

One clue I found may come from the study of Goshin no kata. This is when you do a continuous, non-stop repetition of one of the (Sanshin, Gogyo) five forms endlessly without an attacker until one of two things occurs.  The form naturally and spontaneously shifts or changes to one of the other forms, OR you reach satori (a flash of enlightenment).

I found an interesting reflection on this in an essay from Chōjun Miyagi (founder of Goju-ryu) published in 1942. In his style they have a "Sanchin no kata." He writes,
"Kongoshin Fushaku Shinmyō no Kyochi

If you could attain Enlightenment or Satori through practicing
Sanchin, you were beyond life and death, and your mind and body
would become strong enough like Diamond."
Well I think a yari tip would break against diamond armor such as that.

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