The term ‘cool’ stems from describing individuals who are ‘cold as ice’ when they deal with a confrontation. In short, nothing seems to phase them!
You can see that kind of 'cool' in movies today, expressed by Daniel Craig (James Bond), Liam Neeson (Taken), and of course Hiroyuki Sanada (above) from The Last Samurai.
The Japanese develop this state of mind (called Mushin) in their martial art practice… specifically in the ceremony they use to start-and-finish any kind of practice or free-sparring.
The ceremony isn’t just about etiquette… it’s about mind-set training… it’s about developing the ability to quickly adopt a non-emotional state of mind in preparation for combat.
Why is that important? Because emotional extremes distort your sense of reality, and that affects your physical response. Common examples of this are : frozen with fear ; or blind with rage.
Here’s a brief explanation of the ceremony… because it’s something that many martial artists don’t fully understand. First you walk to your starting position with whatever state of mind you happen to be in at the time :
- you bow, and as you do you suppress your thoughts and emotions
- as you rise and adopt your posture, you’re now in a Mushin state of mind… no thought… no emotion
- then you move, free of any emotional extremes that might distort your sense of reality (fear, anger, self-doubt)
- when you’re finished you adopt a Zanshin state of mind… like Mushin, aware of your surroundings, and ready to continue
- finally you bow again… and as you rise you return to whatever emotional state is normal for you at the time… and you walk away.
This is a skill that has broad applications in everyday life. I’ve known of martial artists who have used it to quickly centre themselves and handle situations like a heart-attack in an office, and news of a death at a family gathering.
When there is chaos all around you, you need to be able to adopt a Mushin state in order to survive, or to help others survive.
But the reason I'm bringing him to your attention is because Japanese sword training offers some of the best examples of Alpha body language.
What is Alpha body language? Well it's the way an Alpha personality carries themselves... and it's all an expression of their attitude to life.
What's their attitude to life? Well for a start, an Alpha personality (male or female) has a strong sense of who they are, and where they're going. They understand the game - or at least the game going on around them - and that knowledge gives them a calm and aware state of mind.
Consequently, they walk with a relaxed balance - never tense. Their shoulders are rolled back in a way that expresses a gentle understated pride in who they are. They exude self-control and a calm focus... but they're ready to take action in an instant.
This is why I often recommend that executives and close protection operators undertake some form of Japanese swordcraft... even if it's just for a short time. In fact it's something that can benefit everyone, and here's why.....
The way the techniques are practiced make you repeatedly express an Alpha attitude to life. And that experience strengthens your ability to carry yourself in a relaxed and balanced manner.... which is going to have a subtle but profound effect on everyone you come in contact with.
Why? Because it's the body language of an Alpha personality, and that will register with people at an unconscious level.
To watch a clip from 'The Last Samurai' that highlights what a cool Mushin state looks like and moves like, click on this link. Both exponents express it, so you can enjoy watching it twice :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEQlj54QlYo *(2mins 18secs)
It's a Primal Thing.