"The mind is your greatest weapon"
I read this quote anonymously written by some philosopher who either had a flair for creating random thoughtful insights or had tangibly experienced the power of this weapon. This quandary existed with me only till I started practicing martial arts. Martial arts have a way with minds. Not only do they make your body flexible, but your mind too.
Applying your brute physical force to kill is not difficult. Controlling that power is. How we use our internal energy or ‘Qi’ draws that big bold line between a bouncer and a martial artist! Martial art is way beyond the depiction of super-flexible heroes flying 10 feet up in the air and knocking out baddies. A martial artist carries an entire monastery inside; there cannot be more tranquility and control elsewhere. The union of physical and internal energy, harmony of yin and yang and the ultimate equilibrium of movement, endurance and self-control forms the doctrine of martial arts.
A common point of contest is whether martial art endows us with mindful control or are people with a disciplined psyche more equipped to learn martial art. Like an elastic which cannot show how much it can stretch till it is actually pulled across, mind can display its tensile power only when acid-tested! There is practically nothing that a mind cannot achieve if tendered value, practice and discipline. Martial art offers exactly that. You do not need a perfect body or an ingenious mind to be a martial artist, rather your body and mind will sculpt up naturally during your tryst with a martial art. Martial art is never fought. It is played; it is imbibed; it is practiced. Not only is it an incredible form of exercise, but also a conduit for holistic development.
Martial arts employs 3 basic principles:
Armed (swordsmanship, kalaripayat) or unarmed (muay thai), combat-oriented (mixed martial arts, boxing, wrestling, etc.) or spirituality oriented (tai chi), martial arts has been an intense subject of cognitive neuroscience, ingraining a profound understanding of the relationships between your internals and externals. Your opponent, surroundings, your body and mind, the elements of universe, your ontology of judgment, loss and victory, fear, submission, and eventually the metaphysics of life and death, all make up the external you integrate with.
"The best fighters are never angry"
A martial artist is often conceived to be a robust, insistent, temperamental and aggressive person ready to punch your face or deliver a choke on slightest trigger, someone to keep one-arm-distance away. But contrary to this very prejudiced view, he or she exudes exceptionally calm and assertive energy, a deeper perception, lack of aggression and a non-conflicting demeanour. Martial art doesn't teach you to kill. It teaches you to control your powers to safeguard life. And this wisdom doesn’t develop overnight; it comes effortlessly only with persistence and practice. But despite having a universal acknowledgment of these assets, why is martial art not a part of our lifestyle? Either it is the fear of injury or lack of cognizance towards its long-term benefits that makes martial art more of a hobby than a lifestyle practice. Out of a vast pedigree of martial arts, one can choose the type best suited to his/her individual disposition. Nevertheless, it takes an enormous amount of commitment and devotion to accomplish it.
The connect between body and soul is unfathomable. Like the body that has its split second of life and death, the mind too has its moment of truth. It is only by invigorating mindfulness that this connect can be established. Practicing martial art is not just empowering, but also enlightening. Never to forget, it is an art. A form of art, which requires the inscrutable balance of a strong mind and a fit body. Not only does it teach you self defense but also self-control. Tai chi stands as a classic example of cultivating life energy and creating internal force by blending meditation and exercise. As a result of this interplay between movement- and breath-control, the level of mental acuity and tranquility Tai chi infuses is mind blowing, literally!
Every form of martial art ushers mental, emotional, and spiritual discipline into the player which no other physical activity or sport can. It isn’t called movement meditation just frivolously! Martial Art is all about building up power to act and mental strength to decide when to and when not to use that power.
It is not to awaken the beast inside you, but to manifest the best in and out of you.
Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.