Mindfulness is Attention to Details
by Robert Wolfe
Attention to details is one of the most pervasive requirements for any significant accomplishment in the field of budo, as well as one of the greatest skills to be learned in the dojo that can be applied to other areas of life. Every aspect of training can be enhanced or degraded by the degree of attention we are willing or able to devote, and the level to which we focus our examination. What we hope to instill is a higher state of awareness as a default, such that our “normal” alertness and orientation toward perfection in any task — as well as toward life in general — is more acute than would have been the case without our training.
Developing the attribute of attention to details is itself a matter of training. Through constant, conscious reminders to yourself to stay focused, composed, and alert to nuances, you will find that attention to details becomes easier over time. Specific ways to practice mindfulness in the dojo include careful arrangement of your “civilian” clothes in the dressing room and your training gear by the side of the mat, proper presentation of your uniform, watching closely everything that is demonstrated during instruction, inward assessment of how well you are reproducing what was demonstrated, and maintaining “situational awareness” of the proximity and movement of others in the dojo. In aikijutsu, an especially valuable application is perception of whether the right-hand or left-hand lead version of a fundamental technique (the advanced techniques are one-sided) is working better, and using awareness of that discrepancy to train the weaker side.
Avoid allowing your actions within the dojo to become rituals performed by rote, which is the exact opposite of mindfulness.
Each of us has a limited time to train, so it behooves us to insure we invest ourselves in practice in a manner that is optimally effective and efficient toward producing the outcomes we desire. The best way to do that is paying attention to details.