By Christopher Caile and Deborah Klens-Bigman, Ph.D.
There is an old Japanese samurai saying, “When the battle is over, tighten your chin strap.” This refers to constant awareness, preparedness for danger and readiness for action. The Japanese saying itself focuses on the end of a combat engagement when it is natural to relax awareness, thinking the danger is over, when in reality it often is not. “This concept carries over into the dojo which is not just a training hall but a place where a certain awareness of the possibility of serious combat must constantly be maintained,” said John Donohue in his article Kendo: The Way of the Sword. But, for the serious martial artist this heightened state of awareness becomes a natural part of the psyche, something that is automatically turned on while awake as well as during sleep.