Mastering Martial Arts – Mastering Life - Part One
I have practiced martial arts for over 40 years and whilst I have acquired physical skills over many of those years it is only in recently that I have gained deeper knowledge, what you might call mastery. Sure I can kick and punch, move, have speed and power but these are all physical skills. What I have learned more recently is how important the mental skills are in becoming a master.
In the past I have been put off the mental martial arts because the adherents very often had no physical skills to back them up. Without both physical and mental skills in martial arts equally balanced and developed one will never achieve true martial arts mastery.
When we are young we lack wisdom because wisdom like physical strength and size are built gradually from childhood until adulthood. However, unless we have and use our mental faculties alongside our physical abilities we will never be complete.
All too often I see young people so totally focused on building their physical skills that they completely disregard the mental abilities that are necessary to support them. Having high kicks and strong muscles and being able to win in competition are not the essentials of the master. A six pack may look great but it has nothing to do with martial arts and life success. In fact so many people who I see flaunting their physicality have nothing in life to show for it except perhaps a few worthless tin trophies. Martial arts are not a sport, they are an art and mastery in art is developed using the body and the mind creatively with the goal of improving the quality of life.
If your physical skill is not complementing your life then that is because you are not using your mental skills. Martial arts are nothing without the mental skills of goal setting and planning. Mental skills are developed through thinking about how your martial will be applied to help you thrive.
In the main martial artists are teaching physical skills to help you survive that is; survive a physical attack, but there is much more to life than survival; surviving is easy it is thriving that is the challenge.
Thriving means to not just survive, the meanest animals on earth can do that, surviving means to exist, subsist, get by somehow. Thriving means to master life, flourish and excel which believe me is so much better. Surviving can be as low as being homeless and having to live on handouts whereas thriving is being healthy and wealthy, being way above the bread line.
I often meet martial artists who have spent most of their career on sport and competition, they have stacks of trophies and tons of old photos showing their wins but their life is one of low income, poor relationships and little prospects. The problem is that they spend so much of their time in developing their physicality and intense training that by the time their bodies are too old to compete they have nothing to show for their endeavours.
What I’m saying is that they are out of balance. Balance is a key martial arts skill and without it you can never be a master but if you can’t transfer your skill in physical balance to your life success then you are no master no matter how good your physical skills.
There are 5 key intelligences that are developed and are necessary to gain martial arts mastery and these are:
· Emotional intelligence
· Physical intelligence
· Mental intelligence
· Spiritual intelligence and finally
· Holistic intelligence or Balance
Each of these intelligences is essential to developing in both life and martial arts. The ancient masters saw no separation between life and martial arts, to them they were one and the same. My experience has taught me that they were right, every skill that I have learned in martial arts can and is used to improve the quality of my life. I spoke before about the physical martial arts being taught as survival and often they are taught by so called masters who are not much more than surviving themselves. What do these masters know of martial arts if they are not themselves thriving? The answer is, very little.
Conversely I see martial artists who are not physical enough. Fat, out of condition and without any experience of real combat they look about as dangerous as a bank manager! That’s not to say that a martial artist cannot be a master without having real fights in the street but without some realism they will and often do, not have enough idea of what it takes to defend themselves in a vicious street fight.
Competition is one way of getting a taste of reality as long as one bears in mind that even the most brutal martial sports have rules that the street does not. Once again it comes down to balancing the various skills that are necessary but first we must know what they are and how to use them.
Thanks for reading today and I look forward to speaking again soon
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