The Void - Graham Ravey

The unconquerable foe

We hear much in the martial arts about "the void" and are told to attain this mental state is what all martial artists irrespective of style should strive for. But little is written about what this state is and how to attain it. I hope to clear this up in the next few paragraphs.

What is the void?
We are told it is the mind of no mind, in other words it is when the mind is clear of thought right NOW! and HERE!, not thinking of the past or the future. If we put these words together we get NOWHERE! which exactly describes the "void". It's not in the past or the future. It's in the present and the present SHOULD NOT be thought about only experienced through feelings. Once experienced it is in the past and can then be thought about. I say SHOULD NOT because we are able to think about and experience at the same time as feeling it. But if we do this will only clutter the mind and the experience will not be savoured properly.

How do we attain the void?
It is quite simple. Lots more training. This leads to muscle memory which will inevitably set the mind free of thought in the present thus allowing the experience to be felt and savoured properly.

If I can use kata as an example, we can see that if one has not practiced it enough and muscle memory has not been attained then during the performance of it. One's mind will be full of thoughts such as "What is the next move?" or "Is my stance correct" etc etc. And therefore is not free to feel and experience each move of the kata as it unfolds. This is the difference between merely doing the kata or becoming one with the kata. It is not wrong to say that at first we must have thought otherwise how can we free our mind of it. But thought is only required in the beginning whilst learning the kata.

If you point a finger at the moon, Do not concentrate on the finger. Or you will miss the heavenly glory.

In this case the void is the moon and thought is the finger.
"Don't think, Feel"

Bruce Lee quoted these words in his movie "Enter the Dragon" but they have their roots much deeper in Zen Buddhism.

Sensei Graham Ravey