How to Use Fudoshin the Right Way to Be Unstoppable

Feb 29, 2020
Created by the author — original image from Bob Fisher on Unsplash


What do you think of when you see sumo warriors?

I see incredible power and determination. It all starts in their mind by harnessing Fudoshin, which translates to the immovable mind. It is thinking in a way where there is not the slightest doubt you will not succeed.

I learned the concept while training in Okinawa from some of the greatest Karate masters who ever lived.

Fudoshin has helped me reach my goals and I’m going to teach you how to use it to achieve yours.


When to use Fudoshin

You want to be in the immovable mindset to complete a difficult but clear and uncomplicated task. We all sometimes need an unshakeable will to succeed.

Let’s say you want to stop snoozing your alarm in the morning. It’s not complex, all you need to do is get out of bed. It is hard only because your mind is fighting an internal battle. You can talk in your head and try to reason all you want. The only solution is action.

I won’t mystify Fudoshin for you. It is a work in progress for me but still adds value to my life and my training.

I often plan a laborious activity in a fit of enthusiasm, but when it gets to the moment, I start making excuses.

I’m definitely going to the gym at 6 a.m. tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning rolls around. I lay in bed thinking I trained hard last night so it’s probably better I rest. This internal argument ends up taking long enough for my window of opportunity to pass.

I’m sure as you read this, you can think of moments like this in your own life. At least, I hope it’s not only me who has mental conversations with myself!


First, let go of anger

We often relate being unstoppable with being angry. Those jaw-dropping moments when Thor joins the battlefield or King Leonidas rips through the Persians.

That’s not what we are aiming for. We will copy their self-belief to tear through our problems but extreme discipline and mastery of self.

We want the sheer energy and enthusiasm but while maintaining a peaceful mind. Honor is woven into Japanese martial culture.

The gods I trained with never showed anger to me. They moved with a majestic self-belief and despite being 3 times my age continually bested me. In a press-up competition against a then 69-year-old sensei, he grinned at my struggle to keep up.

“Am I the old man or are you?”

I got angry and frustrated at myself and lost. He serenely threw in a few more for good measure. Anger may get you through your limits sometimes but Fudoshin will take you much further.

In the alarm clock scenario, the anger comes after you need to rush to get ready. This anger only gives you negativity and does not help you to be who you want to be.


Start small

On January 1st, many of us thought we were in Fudoshin. We would complete our New Year’s Resolution, no matter what.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to fall out of this state of mind. True Fudoshin is an irresistible will to reach our target that will bulldoze through any distraction, whether internal or external.

The greatest mistake people make when trying to harness Fudoshin is setting their aims too high and too quickly. Instead of deciding to go to the gym every single day, start with going to the gym at least once a week with no excuses.

This easier task develops the desire to harness the excellent control you have inside. Fudoshin isn’t about making a martyr of yourself.

Maybe like me, you have times when you snooze your alarm but you’re never actually late. You will force yourself no matter how bad you feel to get your butt in your seat. Here you achieved Fudoshin too late but got there in the end.

Fudoshin can be used well in tandem with habit-building. James Clear in Atomic Habits advises us to take this approach. Don’t force yourself to fix all your problems at once. Choose a small habit and be determined to do it.

This year I decided to drink a glass of beetroot juice every day based on the scientific evidence shown in Netflix’s Gamechangers. The flavor was awful. Every morning though when my brain tried to argue with me, I silenced it and drank the juice. After a couple of months, this was now a habit and I don’t even need to use the immovable mind.

If you’re addicted to your phone. Try to decide that you will not look at it for the next X minutes. Do this regularly until there’s no doubt in your mind at all that you’ll get through your time.

Then try a slightly more laborious task and roll on to tackle more and more challenging situations.


The big and public approach

For most people, I urge the starting small approach. I think you can understand why it would be considered healthier.

Yet there are two paths to take. Choose based on knowing yourself. Are you competitive? Does social opinion matter to you? Then it may be best to go for a big and public approach.

I’m naturally competitive so taking this road works for me. I should be able to motivate myself better intrinsically but I’m not perfect.

In training, I would choose a person who was better than me. Then I would always try to match them and nothing would stop me. I wouldn’t even consider collapsing before they did. I would jokingly let them know I was going to outdo them but in my mind, there was no laughing.

I went big and public with a challenge to be vegan for a month. I apologize to my friends, family, and colleagues because I moaned about my meat withdrawal constantly. You’d think I was Hercules about to take on the 12 labors. This gave me accountability. There’s no way I’d give anyone the satisfaction of making jokes at my failure.


Beware of toxic Fudoshin

Often Fudoshin can work against us. If you have a sweet tooth, you know no matter what reasoning or logic you use, you will eat that cake.

This feeling of inevitability we feel demonstrates toxic Fudoshin. We aren’t angry. We don’t panic. We just do it. This part of our brain feels unstoppable. It’s exactly the feeling we want to feel for something good like eating vegetables!

We can battle this seemingly irresistible will. The many who have overcome substance abuse are a testament to this. An addicted mind will try to rationalize the undesirable behavior.

The solution is a firm no instantly. Don’t even let your brain try to argue with you. As soon as you’ve mentally allowed it to take root, it will be stubborn.

You must use your conscious will against your subconscious will. The research by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow shows this is not easy.

No one said it would be easy.

Take it as each battle is the last battle. Fight with your full mind. You are the sumo warrior. You are the samurai. You are the Karate master. There is no way you will even consider losing.


Beware of toxic Fudoshin masquerading as desirable Fudoshin

You can have surface-level good intentions but mistakenly use Fudoshin against your better interests. I once competed in a national tournament with a torn quadricep. I fought through immense pain using Fudoshin.

I was determined. I was stupid.

I could have done serious damage to myself. Learn from my mistakes and don’t use Fudoshin for toxic tasks. Use it for what you can achieve but it is a hair’s width away from your grasp.


Delay gratification

Practicing Fudoshin often comes down to delaying gratification. Whether it is willing yourself into a good habit or willing yourself out of a bad habit.

Fudoshin could be your ticket to one of the most important skills for success.

Professor Walter Mischel carried out The Marshmallow Experiment. Children were asked to resist taking a marshmallow while the lab assistant was out of the room. If they did then they were rewarded with extra marshmallows. He found children who had the power to fight their urge to take a treat went on to have more successful lives.

In Karate, the benefits of Fudoshin are clear. Training is tough. At my peak, I’d regularly train over 20 hours a week on top of a full-time job. Turning up means nothing if your brain is not turned on. I had to choose to turn up and get my ass handed to me week in and week out in the belief it would all be worth it.

The same is true in life. If you want to succeed at anything, you have to turn up even when a small voice tells you to eat cake instead.



  • Fudoshin is an unstoppable will to succeed.
  • It is especially useful in simple but difficult tasks.
  • Anger eventually works against us. Be unstoppable but peaceful.
  • Start small and make no excuses then build up to larger tasks.
  • If you are competitive consider going big and public to be motivated by not giving in.
  • Don’t be ruled by your subconscious.
  • Don’t use Fudoshin for short-term success but long-term damage.
  • Fudoshin can help you delay gratification which is proven to lead to more success!

Remember Fudoshin can be applied in all areas of life. If you make a promise to a friend, then you will not break it, there are no ifs or buts. Even more importantly, if you make a promise to yourself, then you will not let yourself down and won’t even consider that possibility.

It starts by being more conscious. Why are we using our willpower for things that don’t matter and not for the things that do?


Thank you for reading and I hope this article was valuable to you.

Have a great day!

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