Achieving fudōshin is one of the long term objectives of kendo practice. Literally meaning “immovable mind”, fudōshin is the ability to remain calm and imperturbable under pressure. Fudōshin is symbolised by the Shingon Buddhist deity Fudō myōō, one of the five “Kings of Wisdom” and a patron of warriors.
Fudōshin is the protection against the “shikai” or four sicknesses of kendo, anger, doubt, fear and surprise. A kendoka should not lose his composure under pressure or provocation. In practical terms this means not flinching under the pressure of a sudden strong attack, or reacting hastily to a feint. It equally means not losing your temper when reacting to off target blows or physical contact and in having the courage and commitment to finish an attack once you initiate it.
For all but the most experienced kendoka this sounds worthy, but simplistic and hard to achieve. However, the ability to approach kendo practice with an immovable mind, even for a small proportion of the time, makes for immeasurable progress. Unfortunately there is no instant solution, nor is there a way to reach fudōshin by reading or thinking about it. Like most aspects of kendo the goal is reached through repeated kihon practice.
Breaking it down into its components, one can see that uchikomi geiko and kakarigeiko focus the attacker on striking the target without fear of failure or counter attack. Drills to repetitively practice oji-waza help you meet your opponents’ attack without fear. Butsukarigeiko helps build a robust attacking spirit, that is not put off or offended by the occasional knock. Kirikaeshi develops the ability to breathe whilst attacking continuously, allowing you to keep the pressure on without being overwhelmed by your opponent. In fact, these basic drills should be the building blocks for your kendo and jigeiko no more than the opportunity to polish and test the skills you have developed.
Of course kendo is finally about the interaction between two people and the outcome of shiai is dictated by your comparative levels of skill and mental strength, but you only strengthen these through repeated basic training. There is no quick fix, but just a tip; if your mind, body and the tip of your shinai continuously move forward; you are going in the right direction.