Mushin no shin (無心の心) is a Zen expression meaning the mind without mind. Mushin is a mental state into which very highly trained people are said to enter, who can also practice this mental state during other everyday activities.

Mushin is achieved when a person’s mind is free from thoughts of anger, fear, or ego during combat or everyday life. No thoughts of what comes next, no fear, everything just happens, the mind is in free flow, so the person is totally free to act. In combat, they react towards an opponent without intention or direction, no hesitation.

Mushin can be accomplished through many arts that train and refine the mind and body.


The highest level of karatedo is one where there is no thought process in any of your actions, the mind is completey free of thoughts, emotions and ego. It just happens, or as Bruce Lee said, ‘I do not hit, it hits all by itself

The state of mushin in karatedo can only be reached through practice and repetition, once reached you are in free flow and trust in yourself implicitly, letting your karate just happen, kumite or kata, it just happens, no thoughts, with everything naturally coming from the instinctual subconsciousness. A karateka’s techniques become truly free to move by themselves.

Repetition is imperative to train and get things planted into the subconscious. In a state of mushin, a karateka is not thinking what should be the next move, their natural instinct takes over.

Mushin is very closely related to another state of mind known as heijoshin. Heijoshin literally translates as constant stable spirit.

“Mushin” is a Japanese term that is commonly used in martial arts, particularly in Zen-inspired styles such as Karate, Kendo, and Aikido. The term “mushin” can be translated to mean “no mind,” “empty mind,” or “mind without mind.”

In the context of karate, mushin refers to a state of mind in which a practitioner is able to act spontaneously and without conscious thought, allowing their movements to flow naturally and effectively. It is a state of mental clarity and calmness in which the practitioner is fully present in the moment and able to respond to any situation with a clear and focused mind.

Mushin is often described as a state of mind that is free from distractions, doubts, and other mental obstacles that can interfere with effective performance. It is considered to be a highly desirable state for martial artists, as it allows them to react quickly and effectively in a combat situation, without being hindered by conscious thought or self-doubt.

In conclusion ~ Achieving Mushin requires rigorous training and a deep level of concentration, and is often seen as a key element of mastery in karatedo.


bruce lee

Linden Huckle

About the author

Linden Huckle has been practicing and teaching karate for over 50 years and believes first and foremost, karateka should enjoy their karate. He says 'there is nothing better than seeing a person develop into a great person through their karate practice, while at the same time enjoying karate.'

Linden Huckle