Sales Zanshin

     I am a karate teacher. I also am a sales trainer. I love it when different pursuits in life are synergistic to each other. Such is the case many times with ##karate and #sales . The correct execution of one can strengthen, the performance of the other.  For example, one of the most critical mindsets of karate is the same mindset needed in effective sales and marketing! 


     So the emphasis of this BEAM (article) is to hit Two birds with one stone. We will consider a key Mentality in good martial arts training and how can it be beneficial in a healthy Sales, Marketing Mindset.

     The key martial arts idea I am referring to is the concept of Zanshin.  Zanshin is a term used in all Japanese martial arts. It literally means “remaining mind.” The more movement specific definition is the body’s posture after a technique is executed.

      This moment is critical. The full explosion of energy must be naturally followed by a complete and heightened readiness; A state of emptiness of pre-conception that can react rapidly to anything; A state of natural preparedness that causes one technique to flow into the next.

       It amazes me, how perfectly a cat often embodies this state of readiness. Effortlessly and flawlessly, a cat can go from relaxed to engaged; from stealth to predator.

readiness like a cat

             Here are some examples of how this concept applies to various martial art forms. In kyudo, zanshin refers to body posture after the loosing of an arrow. This posture is to be maintained during and after the action. 

readiness like shooting an arrow

     In karatezanshin is the state of total awareness.  Mind like a moon: In Shotokan, this means to be so aware that you see and feel everything around you like the transparency of a moonlit night. Mind like the water: Means in Shotokan to be so placid that any disturbance can be felt from anywhere in the lake. Both of these indicate that we are to have an Open awareness in life. It means being aware of one’s surroundings and enemies, while ready to react. It is a state of readiness and preparedness. I train my students regularly, in the importance of a “Ready position.”

mind like moon

In  kendo, zanshin is the continued state of spirit, mental alertness and physical readiness to meet the situation (such as an opposing attack) that must be maintained when one returns to ready, after attacking. It is an essential element in defining a good attack.

During the practice of aikido, the way to practice zanshin is to focus on the just-thrown opponent, while holding your ready position. Doing this maintains awareness, in case there are additional attacks or attackers.

mind like water

     A Kenpo site defines it as: Zanshin means to have a correct, perfect, crystalline awareness. I like that phrase. It leads to what all this martial arts talk has to do with sales and marketing. The marketplace is an ever evolving environment. That is why fixed strategies only work for a season. To grow in a sustainable way, a more dynamic posture based on an internal wisdom that can move and react, with any market condition is the key. We need a “Sales Zanshin.”

I think I will write a book on this, after I publish my next one. It is super important in sales and in life. I recently had a graphic reminder myself of the importance of this Sales Zanshin, readiness mindset.


I had a wonderful but challenging customer recently. She was a fierce negotiator.  While I dealt with her, I felt it necessary to remember the lessons of an old pro, who would literally step on your foot, if you said anything after you asked for the business. It is crucial sometimes in communication to know when to SHUT UP! The old pro taught me that many, many times at a decision moment, the next person who talks; buys. And if the salesman talks at this point, he winds up buying the customer’s excuses. So, it is very important to know when to be quiet; especially if you have just asked for someone’s business.

do not speak or say a word

         I was at a crossroads with this particular lady and she was trying to force me (verbally) to give her more in the sale, than I had promised or that was legitimately due. We reached a terse but cordial impasse and I knew I should say not one word. And at a moment in this critical silence; she said emphatically: “You blinked.” She knew what I was doing and to her, even a blink was giving in. It turned into a funny moment, which broke the ice between us and lead to us coming to final terms of sale. [Which by the way were in line but not above, what I had promised her.]

       This experience is a perfect example of Sales Zanshin. I had to know that the right thing to do at that moment was respectfully be quiet and let her make the next move. How did I know this? Because of a condition of readiness. An instinct of preparedness. In sales, mindset is literally everything!!!

readiness at the starting line

     So how do you take this Zanshin karate mindset and apply it to sales? I teach my karate students that moving with an aggressor can be like reading the tide. There is more success to be found in moving with it, than just trying to stop it. I help my students with mind like a moon training and mind like still water training, to help them get in sync with what is going on around them. Also, making them move in synchronous harmony with a class opponent can help them get in to the picture of other person’s body movements. So it is possible not only to prevail because you have terrific power but because, you use your opponent’s power to your own advantage. This same principle can apply in sales. Sales Zanshin!

  1. You have within you, intuition power. An uncanny sense of being able to feel what is important. Sit down and make a list of times that hunches have proved right in your life. Look for the signals when a hunch may actually be your Zanshin, trying to come to life. Your intuition is important in life and super important, if you are to grow in sales.

  2. Believe in your own sense of advantage. Learn to believe that you are the head and not the tail. God puts in you the ability to grow and develop but you must concentrate on the positive qualities, He has put in you to do this. Have faith in your own ability to triumph over adversity. I love what Dr. Robert Schuller used to say. Tough times don’t last. Tough people do! If you want to win in the sales arena; start by believing that you will win!

  3. Dr. Robert SchullerInstincts are powerful. I remember one time on a hunting trip that I had a strong feeling to look to my left, at which time I discovered a very large boar hog coming after me. A hunch saved my patooka. Learn that spidey sense is not only the gift of Spider man. It is yours as well. Practice listening to your instincts. Our life is often layered and the realization you need may be just under the observable surface. Hunches are powerful in the workplace. Learn to pay attention to them.

  4. One of the chief merits of this Sales Zanshin is avoiding pitfalls. I would rather avoid the cliff, than figure out how to survive the fall. Having a sense when something is out of whack is not always something you have to measure or explain. Just pay attention to the hunch. And do not press full steam ahead, when your gut instinct tells you something is wrong.

  5. caution signWe are creatures of design and purpose and creation is shot full of elegant purposefulness. Consider the compass. A hiker can carry with him a device that always points true north. There is this kind of reliability in nature. It is true in the marketplace as well. Except the compass you need to carry is inside you. There is an internal sense of direction that will not fail you, if you learn to heed its pointing.

  6. inner compass

     So there you have it! Zanshin is not only a critical component in the mind and training of every good martial artist. It is also the bedrock mentality of anyone who would have perpetual success in the marketplace.

      Here’s hoping that you discover your own powerful hunches, instincts and intuition. And that having made the discovery, you train to let this state of Zanshin, readiness be with you continually. As you are loose and ready to proactively respond to the ever changing situations around you, both in life and in sales; you will find greater power to make your dreams come true.

25 brilliant Mentors - Tim G Carter Slam banner

                            Your Inspiration and Sales coach; Tim Carter; a.k.a. “Slam”

About timothygrantcarter

Author, Trainer, Pastor, Spiritual Coach, Inspirational Speaker, 12 step follower Thinker, Entrepreneur, Outdoorsman, Hunter, Fisherman, Gardener, and Shotokan YonDan (5th degree black belt). Visionary; Maker of original sayings, slogans and giver of spiritual help. "If God has a pulse, then I can feel it." Nicknamed "Slam" / Creator of #Slamism ... 's on Twitter @cccdynapro
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