The 5 Spirits of Budō

The main purpose of judo is to develop a strong character. Budou in kanji (武道) literally means warrior journey but it’s main translation is “martial arts”.  There’s a reason why the five stages were created in order to mold a warrior with strong character. The journey itself shapes a true warrior.

There are 5 stages to build a strong character.

Shoshin (初心) is the first stage. First kanji character 初 is begin. Second kanji 心 means heart. When two characters are combined, it is literally translated as “beginner’s heart” or generally translated as “beginner’s mind.” This requires the curiosity and intention of a beginner with the interest to learn. Finding the reason why you need to learn is important as this will be the foundation of perseverance or source of motivation.

Zanshin (残心) is the second stage. First kanji 残 means remain or attach. Second kanji 心 means heart or mind. When two characters are combined, it is generally translated as “lingering mind.” What happens when you are on this stage? Mental alertness is high even though you are calm. Thus, you are well aware of your surroundings. This is what people with strong reflexes have. Just like when someone is going to punch you, reflexes automatically give command to your body to protect yourself. So you either block the enemy’s punch, or you swerve away from it. Zanshin gives you the power to be on your guard so you are always prepared for what might come your way. 

Mushin (無心), third stage, is like the saying “mind over matter.” Through this stage, you will learn how to not let thoughts and emotions cloud your judgement or actions. Martial artists can perform combat techniques subconsciously which allows them to move as free and swift as the wind. 

Fudoshin (不動心), fourth stage, has kanji characters that literally mean “immovable mind” or “strong mind.” When there is strong determination, the mind is unshakeable. Have you determined your short term and long term goals yet? How is it going so far? 

Senshin (先心), fifth stage, means “purified spirit.” There are certain things in life that we expect to happen or achieve. When these things do not reach our expectations, they turn into disappointments and dissatisfactions. In order for you to achieve a purified spirit, you have to wash away excessive expectations, and live in the moment facing reality and accept the future with a normal heart. That is the concept of ​​senshin.