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Zanshin (残心) is a concept in Japanese martial arts that can be roughly translated to mean mindfulness or awareness, but in reality has much deeper connotations to it. The literal translation of zanshin is "remaining mind".

In iaidō

I have seen it written[1] that in iaidō there are four stages to zanshin (quotes taken from the source):

  1. Sekka no kurai (the body of a rock). "This is a reference to a spark from rocks when they are struck together. This means that the actual delivery of cuts is instantaneous with no warning of its impending delivery."
  2. Tsuyu no kurai (the rain dripping from a leaf). "This describes how one builds up to the cut just as a drip of water will accumulate at the tip of a leaf very gradually and then gravity finally overcomes viscosity and the drop falls."
  3. Bonsho no kurai (the echo of the ringing of the Buddhist bell). "This describes the after effect of the cut - no movement, no signs of action or intention, just the low, deep echo of the event."
  4. Hei no kurai (the fart that cannot be heard). "I would suggest that this means that without any warning or sign, people around you just fall over dead. While humourous this does I believe have some reason of rhyme to it. It almost captures the previous three as one who can dispatch all their opponents with no apparent movement or effort."


  1. "The Four Levels of Zanshin Part 2" blog post by Andy Watson