Mokuso: Core of Karate Meditation – Ultimate Guide


A relaxing and focused meditation is all required before karate training. But you can’t find that focus if you aren’t meditating well. I will teach you the core element of karate meditation, Mokuso.

When I started my training, my reflexes were slow. The mind was usually distorted as I used to walk to the dojo. Sensei complains many times that I’m not focused. Later he taught me some benefits of karate meditation and taught me Mokuso as the forever solution.

Later, it became my training’s vital part. I have been performing Mokuso for more than 5 years, and it helped me to focus and control my thoughts better. Many people fail to utilize its benefits as they are doing it wrong. I will not only teach you how to do it, but you will also know its advantages and tips to meditate well.

What is Mokuso?

Mokuso is a Japanese meditation technique that has helped me to focus on my karate training well. It is formed by combining two kanji, “moku” which means silent, and “so,” which means thinking or focus.

While performing Mokuso, you just look like a person that is profoundly thinking. And that’s where this karate meditation technique came from. Its root is found in zen meditation. 

Centuries ago, Shaolin monks used to meditate like a technique that resembles Indian Dhyana by Gautama Budhha. When it traveled to Japan (Ryukyu at that time), it became an integral part of karate before training.

Why Should You Mokuso?

Performing Mokuso calms your mind and body. It is beneficial to do before and after practicing karate. It maintains an energy flow through your body and clears your thoughts from disturbance. The purpose of Mokuso is to eliminate anger, stress, fear, in short, to attain Mushin.

The body position in itself is an answer to all (I’ll discuss it later). This karate meditation brings control to your emotions and inner peace. When I started doing Mokuso, it also helped me in breathing exercises, as it requires good posture and just focuses on breath control.

You can even perform it in your home as morning meditation (before yoga) due to its effect on the mind and body. Let’s take a look at how to perform this technique.

How do You do Mokuso?

In the dojo, when your sensei says Mokuso, that doesn’t mean you just sit and relax. There are some measures to perform Mokuso in the right way. Here is the step by step method to perform it perfectly:

1. Saiza

Mokuso, karate meditation, Saiza

Saiza (pronounced as say zah’) is the sitting arrangement of any meditation. For Saiza, you need to sit with your legs bent below you.

Your feet came under your hips, and your spine should be straight. Keep your shoulders straight but relaxed. Keep your head straight and raised (looking forward).

2. Hands Position

Mokuso, karate meditation, hand position

Your hands should rest on your lap, wrist over the thighs. Your left hand should be placed on your right one and your thumbs touching each other. Do not press the thumbs as a bit of pressure will use some of your hands and forearms muscles.

3. Eyes Position

Mokuso, karate meditation, eyes position

You can keep your eyes in three positions as you prefer.

Closed: Almost all people keep their eyes closed while meditating. It helps them focus well and relax.

Opened: On the contrary, some people keep their eyes open and focus to a point at eye level. It prevents them from dozing off and keeps them awake.

Semi-opened: I used something in between these two. By relaxing the muscles of eyelids, they become partially closed. But don’t shut them down so they can receive perspective and keep me awake.

4. Focus On Breathing

Mokuso, karate meditation, focus on breathing

Once you get the perfect posture, the next step is to focus on breathing. You need to breathe through your nose and close your mouth. Take natural and deep breaths, but also keep them slow.

Don’t stress too much about it (as most people think meditation is all about long deep breathing). Inhalation should be done naturally. You primarily focus on relaxing on every exhalation. Let the stress out with every exhale.

5. Time For Meditation

Mokuso, karate meditation, time for meditation

The duration of Mokuso depends upon your relaxation and your commitment to remain focused. You could meditate for five minutes before and ten minutes after your karate training.

If you are at home, then there is no limit to it. The recommended time is to meditate for at least 15-20 minutes for complete relaxation. But it is good to go over half an hour as well.

I personally meditate for 20-25 minutes at home. It gives me enough time to relax and bring inner peace. If you are a beginner, then ten minutes would be enough.

6. Keep Your Thoughts Away

Mokuso, karate meditation, keep your thoughs away

While performing karate meditation, always keep your mind empty. The purpose of Mokuso before karate training is to attain Mushin. It is a state of mind where you don’t feel anything. You are not thinking about what your next move will be and acting on your instincts. To get to this skill level, you need to learn how to keep your mind apart from thoughts first.

Also, your thumb position will tell you a lot. If they are raised, then you are either excited or too stressed (overthinking). If they are resting against your fingers (or your hands are sloppy), then you are sleepy or low on energy.

What’s the Benefits of Mokuso?

It brings calm and soothes your emotions. Your excitement, anger, frustration, and stress are all gone. I always feel like my mind is restarted and fresh after a quick ten minutes meditation.

Like all meditations, it creates a connection between mind and body. Your brain is synchronized with the muscles and different parts. It is essential to attain Mushin, as you are not thinking while acting in its state.

As you focus your breaths and feel your body relax, you are getting better control over it. It helps me to control my emotions well and also lets me know my strengths.

Either in the dojo or at home, you are cut off from the outer world. But still, you need to remain in the present. As you have cleared your thoughts, you are not thinking about the past or future, becoming tense. All you need is a peaceful environment, be aware of your surroundings while ignoring the outer world.

After Mokuso, I concentrate on my karate effectively. You will focus on your training better with a relaxed mind. That is why at least five minutes of Mokuso is necessary before karate training to empty your mind.

Tips to do Karate Meditation at Home

  • Get a comfortable environment. Buy a meditation cushion to not strain your feet.
  • Don’t play focus or relaxing music. Meditation should be done in a quiet environment.
  • Breathe naturally. Inhale normally and short, exhale deeply and focused.
  • Don’t exhale till your breath is out. It shouldn’t cause any discomfort.
  • Besides Mokuso, you can also perform Shaolin Meditation, Tai Chi Meditation, Zazen, or Bunkai before your karate training.

Final Verdict

Mokuso is an ancient and integral karate meditation technique that has helped many trainers for years (including me). I have guided you on how to do it in detail. But besides Mokuso, you can perform other meditation techniques too.

Just meditate in a silent atmosphere and focus on the present. You will do training well and control yourself better. Stay focused!

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Span Chen
Span Chen
I have been practicing karate for more than 6 years, and now at the sixth level (green belt) of the Okinawa Goju-Ryu Karatedo Kugekai. Though I haven’t earned my Black Belt yet, I am deeply passionate about my training.