Martial Arts do - the long way of the fighting styles


In Karate-Do, meditation exercises are practiced before and after each lesson.

Zazen in Rinzai school.
Zazen in Rinzai school
Photo: Faverte

The most common is mokuso, in which the person remains silent, sitting in hiraza, trying to calm his mind (without obligation to close his eyes). Its goal is to prepare the practitioner mentally to train or to assimilate what he has learned.

Some teachers may include zazen (literally "seated meditation"), which is a method of meditation practiced in Zen Buddhism. It is not a proper practice of Karate, because this martial art is not associated with Buddhism or any religion. Its practice is optional and is usually adopted by karatekas followers of this religion.

One should remain seated on with its back straight (a bank or pad may be used) for a period of up to 40 minutes. Zazen can be practiced in the dojo but also at home. Its aim is to "sit" with an open mind, without clinging to the thoughts which flow freely. Feelings and sensations must be observed without judging or suppressing them, in order to seek release the mind and attain enlightenment (satori).

There are five basic sitting positions:

Full Lotus: the right foot rests on the left thigh and the left foot rests on the right thigh.
Half-Lotus: the left foot rests on the right thigh, while the right leg is folded under the left leg.
Burmese position: both legs are folded, resting on the square mat (zabuton). One variation places the left foot upon the right calf.
Seiza: the knees are shoulder-width apart while buttocks are supported either by the heels, a zafu (sitting cushion) or other cushion, or a low sitting bench.
Chair: One sit upright. The feet is kept shoulder-width apart on the floor while the hips are higher than the knees.

The head should rest squarely over the spine and not tilt or lean in any direction while the shoulders are relaxed. The left hand is placed palm up on the palm of the right hand. The hands should rest in the lap.

The focus should be on the hara (three finger widths below the navel) and breathing by inspiring and expiring silently through the nose, leaving the mouth closed and the tongue against the palate. The gaze should be set at about one meter from the ground with the eyes fixed on a distant point.

The difference between these two methods is sometimes unclear. Mokuso usually occurs during the initial greeting ceremony.

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