Current Issue

International Journal of Martial Arts - Vol. 7

[ Article ]
International Journal of Martial ArtsVol. 7, No. 0, pp.1-9
Abbreviation: injoma
ISSN: 2287-8599 (Online)
Online publication date 25 Mar 2021
Received 17 Jun 2020 Accepted 12 Feb 2021

Mushin in Martial Arts and Insights from Neuroscience
Loke K. Sa
aIndustrial Management, National University of Science and Technology, Taiwan (


Mushin or no-mind in martial arts is discussed in the well-known writings of Takuan Soho. Some of the common explanations of mushin includes as “flow”, ego-less movement, fluidity, awareness without conscious thoughts, global awareness and so on. But somehow these explanations are not entirely satisfying as they do not explain the paradox in the writings of Soho. We review some results from neuroscience for a possible explanation and that the dorsal and ventral pathway of vision and motion provides a plausible and logical explanation for no-mind.

Keywords: no-mind, mushin, wuxin, human visual system, visuomotor control, dorsal visual stream, ventral visual stream, blindsight, zen, martial arts

1. Bennett, A. (1999). Budo - The Martial Ways of Japan. Nippon Budokan Foundation.
2. Creem, S., & Proffitt, D. (2001). Grasping objects by their handles: A necessary interaction between cognition and action. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 27(1), 218.
3. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1991). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper Perennial.
4. Deshimaru, T. (1982). The Zen Way to Martial Arts: A Japanese Master Reveals the Secrets of the Samurai. New York: Penguin Books.
5. Fabian, S. (2001). Fudoshin and Its Continuing Relevance. Furyu: The Budo Journal(9).
6. Finnigan, B., & Tanaka, K. (2010). Don't Think! Just Act! In G. Priest, & D. Young, Philosophy and the Martial Arts. Open Court.
7. Goodale, M., & Milner, A. (1992). Separate visual pathways for perception and action. Trends Neurosci., 15(1), 20-25.
8. Goodale, M., Milner, A., Jakobson, L., & Carey, D. (1991). A neurological dissociation between perceiving objects and grasping them. Nature, 349, 154-156.
9. Haffenden, A., & Goodale, M. (1998). The effect of pictorial illusion on prehension and perception. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 10(1), 122-136.
10. Hu, Y., & Goodale, M. (2000). Grasping after a delay shifts size-scaling from absolute to relative metrics. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 12, 856-868.
11. Hyams, J. (1979). Zen in the Martial Arts. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
12. Jeannerod, M. (1986). The formation of finger grip during prehension. A cortically mediated visuomotor pattern. Behavioural Brain Research(19), 99-116.
13. Keenan, J. P. (1989). Spontaneity in Western Martial Arts - Yogacara Critique of Mushin (No-Mind). Journal of Religious Studies, 16(4), 285-298.
14. Kiyota, M. (2009). Kendo - Its Philosophy History and Means to Personal Growth. Routledge.
15. Mann, J. K. (2012). When Buddhists Attack: The Curious Relationship Between Zen and the Martial Arts. Tuttle.
16. Mishkin, M., & Ungerleider, L. (1982). Contribution of striate inputs to the visuospatial functions of parieto-preoccipital cortex in monkeys. Behav Brain Res, 6(1), 57-77.
17. Moreaud, O. (2003). Balint Syndrome. Arch Neurol., 60(9), 1329–1331.
18. Perenin, M.-T., & Vighetto, A. (1988). Optic Ataxia: A Specific Disruption in Visuomotor Mechanism: I. Different Aspects of the Deficit in Reaching for Objects. Brain, 111(3), 643-674.
19. Soho, T. (2012). The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman. (W. S. Wilson), Trans.) Boston: Shambhala Publications Inc.
20. Suzuki, D. T. (1949). The Zen Doctrine of No-Mind. London: Rider and Company.