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Martial Arts Philosophy

Lessons from the Dojang*

The Philosophy Behind the Martial Arts

* One of the most priceless gifts of martial arts practice is to get to know yourself internally and externally.
* Our main goal is to use the body to reach and learn to master the mind. Once you have mastered your mind you will have no desire to ever fight.
* “The years teach us much the days never knew” Ralph Waldo Emerson
* In real martial arts, even when faced with the situation, you can stay calm and centered and make the best choices in that moment.
* Martial arts training helps us learn to deal with adversity. That is what sets it apart from doing things like yoga.
* Through the practice we become aware of what we think and why. What shapes our values and beliefs, then we can step back and look at it with more of a pure mind.
* Consistent effort over time is needed to achieve greatness in anything.

About the Practice

* After class, visualize what was done – mentally perform the physical movements. This will help you to remember and also help you develop your ability to visualize.
* If you use your body to learn movement, particularly complex movement, your mind will develop. If you use only the mind, the body does not develop. That is why we call martial arts bodymind training.
* Practice makes habit. How you practice will become habit. Practice sloppy – that becomes a body habit. Practice with focus and precision – then that becomes your habit.
* Strength is a skill – both physical strength and mental strength. It takes practice.
* How do you absorb learning a lot of new things in class? Always fully engage your mind and body. Meditation will help you learn focus. Repetition will help body memory. Knowing the purpose or intent of the movement improves your ability to focus, understand, and remember. Be willing to repeat beyond boredom.
* Learn to control your internal environment, not by holding it in and creating tension, but by learning to control and slow the breath for example and see what that does for you. Can you bring yourself down from a feeling of high alert or tension? Recognize your thoughts.
* The point of the practice is the practice. The rest will take care of itself. Just practice!

Frustration & Low Points

* You will get out of the practice what you put into it. If you are not satisfied with your progress, look inward first. What is missing? What are you not doing enough of?
* Repetition is the mother of skill. Again, be willing to repeat beyond boredom.
* When you are able to see and identify a weakness in your practice, consider that a gift.
* We practice for the sake of practice – not for trophies or tournaments. You will automatically develop if you practice mindfully.
* Want to improve your practice? Practice what gives you the most trouble.
* Can you learn to practice without judging yourself?
* What is your biggest reason for practicing? We must know the reason, and keep it in mind, especially during those times when you want to give up.
* Be unconcerned with results, sashes and belts. Just practice.

Dealing with Challenge

* “Good timber does not grow with ease. The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.”  Douglas Malloch
* Practice the things you struggle with the most.
* Your body will meet the demands (or lack of) that you put on it.
* “The easy way is the hard way; the hard way is the easy way.”  The Dalai Lama

Inspiration in the Martial Arts

* Can you practice to the point where you become a flicker of light for someone else?
* If you get lost and quit practicing, you will never know what you missed experiencing. Nothing worth having is easy.
* Those who come to class consistently, even when there are so many other demands on their time or when they just don’t feel like it, those are the people on the path to self discipline and mastery. Those are the people who will really get to reap the benefits from their practice.
* Martial Arts is about developing the will. If you can develop your will you can do just about anything.
* We help shape the world of those around us.

On Confidence

* If you think you can, you are right; if you think you can’t you are also right.
* Martial Arts teaches us to challenge our previously held beliefs about ourselves and our world.
* Don’t compare yourself with others. Don’t worry about who is better than you or who you think you are better than. Just work on yourself – that is what the practice is for.
* Let the practice be a way for you to break through your limitations and your comfort zone. You create the opportunity to try new things.

On Martial Arts Etiquette

* Bow with gratitude and sincerity.
* Bowing to others is not about a sign of submission but about recognizing “the spark” in another fellow human being.
* Practicing etiquette teaches us to be mindful – from making sure we are lining up straight to bowing correctly and at the appropriate times (even when tired). It is all designed to teach us to pay attention – to keep that “bright mind”.
* Once ritual becomes habit it is useless. The point is to practice it mindfully.
* Seniors set the example for juniors. Juniors will watch what seniors do and follow suit. The senior student has a responsibility to set a good example.

On Meditation

* “Meditation is the foundation of all true martial arts.” Shifu Robert Brown
* When you can still the mind, you can control the mind.
* When you see the world differently, you experience it differently – same world, different mind looking at it.
* At the highest level the martial artist’s mind must be quiet.
* Make an appointment with yourself everyday. Then just do it.
* Too much meditation without physical practice is not good for you; it can leave you unbalanced and spacey.
* Meditation is the hardest thing that we do.
* “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” Blaise Pascal

*Same as the Japanese “Dojo”, written properly as “Dao Chang” in Chinese Pinyin, and meaning “Place of Enlightenment (Self Realization, Self Awareness, etc.)”