By Stephen Cheney
There is a lot that can be said about the Martial Arts, there is a lot of false information and incorrect understanding.
The Martial Arts are not only about combat, they also have philosophy and spirit similar to many other arts.
Yoga teaches meditation from a state of stillness. The Martial Arts also bring the mind into a meditative state, but they do that by using movement. Dance is similar. The human mind has evolved like all life forms to explore its surroundings, to connect, to learn and thus to better survive the perils of existence. The mind is not actually made to be still. Meditation from a prone position can be difficult. While you try to focus on one point, a spot or candle say, the mind feels that it is released from constantly controlling the body and the senses; so with no outside input it turns inward and explores its own corridors. A troubled mind then can replay the horrors it lived through in the past, or it can dwell on feared outcomes that may lie awaiting in the future. It takes practice to calm the mind and meditate from stillness.
The Martial Arts provides a different approach. The body is sent into weaving different patterns. As the body moves the mind's attention follows as it controls each movement. When the mind is thus occupied it leaves aside the troubles of past and future. It is too busy to worry and is totally centred on the present moment. As when stressed, people try to cope with stress by busying themselves, by working. The present moment is the key to all life and all being. The past is gone and the future is not yet made. What the past was, only the present remembers and what the future will be, only the present will decide. Life is in the NOW. If you are not attentive to what is happening in the present moment then you are not dealing with Reality. You are also not enjoying Life. For every moment that passes when gone does not return again. Life is a short whirl and brilliance; then disappears. If you are not experiencing each precious moment then you are only cheating yourself of the time given for your own life. As the Buddhist master says: ‘When you are sweeping, KNOW that you are sweeping; When you are eating, KNOW that you are eating.’ Whatever you happen to be doing, be aware of its precious time and savour each moment. Experience, good or bad, IS living.
The Martial Arts alert us to the fact that we, weak as we are, are not yet helpless. We CAN change our surroundings somewhat, and the key to that is to work and practice at changing ourselves. For we can go out to meet the forces in the world as VICTIMS, or we can prepare and stride out as WARRIORS. The two persona of ourselves meet the world differently and the world treats each persona differently.
From ancient times warriors and masters have been placed in the crux of life and death. When a warrior is the next day to go into battle, he realizes that he might not return to take up his life again. Therefore each moment, each colour, each touch, each taste of life is precious. Life is sacred. Therefore masters focused on the deep questions of Who and What am I, and what is Life, how to Live life best, what does Death mean? What memory do I leave after me? They concluded that one can only be oneself; that whatever you are now can be improved; that honour is the core of our being. The masters recognized the importance of one’s self, the vitality of life; that one is worth protecting and growing. All life seeks the Light that makes it a wholeness; and when life is not seeking: it is dying.
Before one can develop one’s mind one must be alive. Therefore training to survive comes before training to grow. As it is said: ‘Unless one survives, one can do nothing else.’ Survival training however, also assists higher learning. It gives Confidence, Calmness in crisis, improves one’s focus and abilities, it gives you the needed knowledge both of what you CAN now do and of what you CANNOT do: therefore you can make better judgments of just what are your options in a crisis. ‘Know Thyself’, as the Greeks say.
(Image: Martial Arts Silhouettes - Google Images)