" Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. "
Mahatma Gandhi

 

Have you ever wondered what makes a great Martial Artist?  What are the key features that, when combined, makes one warrior superior to another?  Or maybe, what is the mindset that one must have to engage in and be successful during combat?  I have often found myself asking these questions throughout my Martial Arts journey and have found that the battle strategy referred to as Furinkazan is really useful in describing what it takes to constantly improve and achieve success.

Furinkazan refers to the martial attributes that contribute to a method of battle that featured in Sun Tzu’s Art of War.  Sun Tzu was a Chinese strategist and tactician who was credited for leading his army to victory even when outnumbered and against all odds.  He took to the battle field when victory was seemingly impossible but was able to overcome the enemy with superior strategy, guile and methods of war.

The battle strategy was adopted by the Japanese feudal lord Takeda Shingen (1521-1573 AD).  The proverb featured heavily on his military banners to remind his army of what was required to attain victory in war. 

 

 

These attributes proved to be so effective in battle for an entire army, that I believe they should be embodied by all martial artists who seek progress and success in their chosen art.  An accomplished Martial Artist should exhibit these characteristics:

  • "as Swift as the Wind" 
    Agility - Be agile when evading attacks, attacking and switching between defense and offense.  Cover the distance between yourself and your opponent quickly and effortlessly.  Let your movements be so swift and natural that you are able to interchange between attack and defense without these being perceived as two separate actions.

  • "as Silent as the Forest" 
    Stealth - Let your movements be undetectable.  Do not telegraph your movements so as to give away your position and intent.  Your attacks should be delivered naturally and smoothly to increase the probability of success in landing them.  Try to be as light on your feet as possible, landing softly and avoid stomping the ground so as not to expend more energy than required.  

  • "as Fierce as Fire" 
    Ferocity - Fight with spirit, passion and intent. Remove all fear that is associated with the exchange from your mind.  Explode and expand as necessary, as does fire when it is engulfing an object.

  • "as Immovable as a Mountain" 
    Defense - Do not relinquish much ground and ensure that your defenses are tight and simple.  Protect your vital points and center line.

 

These are important aspects to incorporate within your training and during exchanges with an opponent.  Over and above training and fighting, these aspects are even more powerful when incorporating them in one's mindset and mentality.  They become formidable assets when being utilised or applied to the tackling of problems even outside of Martial Arts.

These attributes, when internalised and incorporated in one's psyche, become a powerful mindset with which to tackle problems and achieve success.  Most battles are won and lost in the mind.  As a competitor, if you believe that you are capable of winning, your chances of winning are drastically increased.  The opposite is also true, often in one-to-one confrontations with an opponent, self-doubt and fear plays a fundamental role in how you perform.  This does not mean that you should become over-confident as this is a shortcoming that can also become a weakness for you.  The key is to adopt the correct mindset - to focus on your strengths, understand your weaknesses and maintain a positive internal voice. 

For me, the Furinkazan strategy is extremely important in adopting the correct mindset.  The mind is required to be:

  • Swift
    A fluid and focused mind is one that can quickly understand and decipher problems.  Once the problem is completely understood, the swift mind is then able to pursue solutions in which it can consider, evaluate and select an appropriate solution.

  • Silent
    A calm and relaxed mind that is free from chaotic chatter is in the perfect state to deal with matters that arise.  A mind in this state has removed all self-doubt and has obtained the clarity required to understand the problem in its entirety so that the most appropriate solution can be realised.

  • Fierce
    A "warrior" mindset, one that is not easily deterred by failure and is equipped with the strength to persevere until the goal is achieved. Approach the problem with the passion and ferocity required to achieve a favourable outcome.

  • Immovable
    A mind that is unshakeable in its resolve.  Be determined and do not let anything or anyone detract you from reaching your goal.

 

Final Thoughts...

As a Martial Artist or any other discipline in life, possessing the correct mindset is key to achieving sucess in whatever you choose to do.

 

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