Some "Off the Cuff"
Semi-Random Observations of "Zanshin" from Different Angles and Assorted Sources:
Zanshin roughly translates as "remaining mind" or "the mind with no remainder." This is the mind of complete action, complete follow-thru, completed "completion" and the mind of no-hesitation ... a mind completely in tune with all around it/you and fully intuitive with each action creating itself without the interferences of conscious thought..
It is the moment in kyudo (Zen archery) after releasing the arrow and the moment in Aikido of completing the waza and then stepping back with full awareness of the downed opponent and the totality of the surroundings.
When you are taking a step, it is your weight moving smoothly with no easily discernable rise or fall and with the next step beginning as a movement that naturally follows the one prior and that begins naturally on its own.
In breathing it is ONLY this current breath as it happens now whether breathing in or out and it joins with the waza; syncing itself in a musubi-like connection. Zanshin can also mean "remaining mind" in the sense of completely following through but leaving no trace that you were ever there.
When your actions and parts (body, breath, focus, speech, waza, mind, spirit) are separated and operating independently from each other then no true or "real" action can reveal itself in your presence because you are locked into doubt and hesitation and are fighting the urge to quit. To a Sensei this is immediately made apparent in the players' momentary hesitation; sometimes a physical "hitch in the getalong" that is vague and not readily apparent except to a another seasoned player, mature in the concepts. The momentary interruption of the "flows" and of the "energies" can intrude like a thunderclap on others; zanshin being "contagious" to those who understand how "not to understand".
Zanshin is living in the moments and in the circumstances that arise now; not before and not later; in the margins between yesterday, today and tomorrow, before "then", "now" and "to be". One is not "listing" things in life that need to be done but instead, one is "living" in this moment, right now, right here; a valid comparison being the moment of "la petite mort".
In zanshin; one is not even really aware of what has been done, what needs to be done or what should be done. One is not aware of what others think, or of what their opinions may be, or of outside considerations. One with zanshin exists only, only at this one moment, this one place, this one time, this one event ..... this one "being"; intuitive with nothing else existing.
In the martial arts, Zanshin means having no break in our activity, because there is no time to take back a stride or atemi or a lock and "fix it". It also means going beyond mere waza/technique and simulaneously negates the ideas of "tactics" and "strategy"; those more propertly belonging to the dimensions of kihon, kata and randori.
We cannot force the situation at hand to fit to or conform or change itself to match the waza. The irimi, the tenkan, the blending with and the understanding of the attacking energies (of the other person) must be adjusted immediately to the energy of the partner.
In practice we must go beyond strategies of defense and hesitation. We must open up to the energy of mind itself as it expresses itself as seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling and thinking. Penetrating into this energy, we must go beyond all barriers and must merge with an become one with the attacker, the surroundings, the flow of the moment, as it were.
Zanshin means to do each thing completely, totally and with complete focus only on "that thing". Zanshin then means, a mind of continual readiness, like a mirror ready to reflect whatever is shown to it.
Zanshin means leaving nothing behind and pushing nothing forward. It means paying attention to our lives.
L.F. Wilkinson Sensei