Monday, 15 November 2010

Mental Intelligence and the Martial Arts

Today I'd like to cover another of the 4 key intelligences - IQ. Our ability to think and use our intellect has a major impact on our martial arts and daily life. This may seem obvious but there is some doubt as to how often people really think and how often they just run on autopilot. Very often our habits do our thinking for us and at these times we are working on a conditioned level rather than a conscious one. Our conscious mind is what I call the 'receptionist' of the brain in that it takes messages and passes details on to the departments that deal with them. Sometimes the receptionist starts to think that because their job is so pivotal passing huge amounts of data to other areas of the brain that it can begin to think its running things, however, as we all know the receptionist rarely runs the company.

Our ability to think is our ability to receive, process and store data that comes in through our various senses and in that way our intellect is crucial to every part of our life. so how does our thinking work? what is it to think? Basically, thinking is asking a question and finding an answer. there is a saying which goes 'there is no question that you cannot answer' and this is true, it may not be the correct answer but an answer can be provided. Sometimes we can get stuck on the fact that correct is correct but generally correct depends on your point of view. a decision that seems right today may be viewed as wrong later and vice versa. the main thing is that a decision is made and action take for without action nothing happens, as King Lear said 'nothing comes from nothing'.

Part of our intelligence is our ability to make decisions based on the information we have to hand. The ability to reason through is a key part of our intellect: to pose questions and find answers is its main job. We talked a few days ago about our emotions and how they are the alarm bell that tells us something needs to either change or stay the same. Once this information has been received the mental intelligence studies the data and how it should be acted upon. It is at this stage that it will either provide an answer or pass it on for further study to our greatest intelligence - our spirit. But more of our spirit later.

The answers our mental intellect will provide will be based on either our or someone else's experience. This part of our intellect is not responsible for creating new answers only providing answers that are readily available. For instance if you want a quick answer while you are on the internet, these days we can simply type the question into Google which will give us the answer. Whether we use the answer is our choice and generally this will be thrown back to a higher authority unless it feels intrinsically right straight away and falls within the remit of the mental intellect.

In martial arts training, very fast thinking comes from our emotions and/or our trained responses. Deeper questions require more time that is simply not available in combat. Our trained responses are what we build into our physical intelligence and if we have no trained response our emotions will take over and simply give us a fight or flight reaction. In sparring our mental powers can come into play to analyse situations as we have more time to back off and gain time to think. In street defence we may not have the gift of this extra time unless the situation has been forewarned to us and we've had a few moments to make a conscious decision.

Conscious thought is crucial to the proper use of martial arts as it is our decision process provided by the conscious mind that ensures that we use our skills in the right context. If we are overly emotional or our conscious mind is dulled by other factors such as drink or drugs our emotions can take over and as a trained martial artist this is not what we want. Our trained response is either physical from muscle memory or conscious decision making based on previous experience. work on understanding the difference so far between the 3 intelligences we have discussed and how we can use them to make our lives better.

Tomorrow we'll discuss the big one! Spiritual intelligence. Thank you for reading today and I hope you'll be back again tomorrow.

Best wishes

Tony Higo
Chief Instructor
National Martial Arts College

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