Since last January, Hatsumi Sensei repeats that our actions are “undecided.” In Japanese, the term is “Mitei.” It can be translated by “untruly” or “uncertainly. (1)
In a fight, you will either lose or win, but you will know the outcome only at the end. You cannot decide it. As westerners, we are programmed by our educative system not to be undecided. And Rene Descartes, the French philosopher is the one to blame for that!
He wrote “I did not imitate the skeptics who doubt only for doubting’s sake and pretend to be always undecided. On the contrary, my whole intention was to arrive at a certainty, and to dig away the drift and the sand until I reached the rock or the clay beneath.” From there comes our problem.
“To decide” comes from the Latin “decidere.” It is made of “de” (privative) + “caedere” (to cut). It implies the act of choosing by “cutting” the wrong choices.
Once again this is what we learn in school. We train ourselves not to doubt, and to always “know with certainty.” This type of reasoning applies perfectly to non-animated objects, but not for humans. (2)
In a fight, we do not choose the actions of the attacker. We only adapt our reactions to the situation, like a surfer on a wave.
When Sensei reacts to an attack, he doesn’t know what he is going to do next. He lets the body do it. This is why he often says “I don’t do the same movement twice,” nature cannot be tamed.
He doesn’t make any choice before the movement, as he is always reacting with a natural flow. The brain (thinking process) is not part of it.
Understanding that, is understanding how to control Uke. The control of Mutō Dori is not something we “decide,” it naturally manifests itself. The control is not mechanical, it is total, and includes everything. The control is coming from outside.
Sensei uses only the word “control” in English, instead of the Japanese word “Seishi.” This is because Seishi is more physical and does not imply the non-physical world. (3)
The control of Mutō Dori can exist only when our actions remain undecided. The moment we “decide” to do any movement, we lose the ability to control the attacker.
Mitei, indecision, is a necessity to achieve full control. By full control, I mean the attacker and the space between and around us. This concept of “control” is not coming from the west, is it Japanese.
To improve our Budō, we have to behave and think like a Japanese, it is Seishi, a matter of life and death!
So, decide to be undecided!
1 未定 / mitei not yet fixed; undecided; pending
2 We have the same problem in the “discourse on the method.” It works perfectly for objects but has to be adjusted when dealing with humans.
3 制止, seishi: control; check; restraint; inhibition
4 生死, seishi: life and death, Samsara