Martial Arts and Balance

Firstly let me say that this blog article is not about the physical sense of balance, although that is critical to your martial arts – being balanced and taking your opponents balance being fundamental principles.

This piece is about balancing of the natural forces that impact on our emotional, mental and spiritual development.

logo-for-signet-ringThe Quantum Martial Arts logo includes the dragon guarding the yin yang symbol with it’s protective wings outstretched and the head watchful and ready.  The yin yang symbol is also known as the Taijitu.

The Taijitu symbol represents many aspects of Asian thinking, in particular Chinese philosophy including concepts of duality – masculine/feminine, dark/light, fire/water, strong/weak, direct/indirect and in martial arts the concepts of direct forces and yielding forces.Chrome Yin-Yang, symbol of harmony.

The yin yang symbol also highlights how seemingly opposing or contrasting forces are actually interconnected, integrated or intertwined.  In particular the circle of the dark in the light teardrop and vice versa, helps us see that nothing in life is 100% dark or 100% light and cautions against the idea of total extremes.

This blog’s theme considers the need for balance in our undertaking of our martial arts journey and more broadly in our life.

Many students, especially when starting out, embrace the physical side of training with a lot of enthusiasm – seeking to be stronger, fitter, faster, more effective, learning the moves etc.  This stage and energy is often very ‘masculine’ in its form.

I should state at this stage that my utilisation of “masculine/feminine” in this context is the concept of archetypal forces, balanced but different, and requiring equal expression in a person, regardless of sex, if we are to live fully expressed and realised lives.

No weighted value is assigned here – in fact the opposite is true – we need to ensure that we are balanced in our pursuits and the ways in which we utilise our energy and transform our body, mind and spirit.

Chrome Yin-Yang, symbol of harmony.I have observed in myself, and in other experienced martial artist’s, similar mindsets and tendencies.  One of these is a tendency towards setting ourselves a standard of perfection that we would not impose on others.  This is an unbalanced state and needs to be brought into consciousness.  Only be realising this can we begin to be a bit more forgiving towards ourselves.

Another mindset is what I call “the expectation that I can run at a brickwall at 100 miles an hour and expect the brickwall to yield” mentality.  A few years ago a friend explained to me that I was like an F1 Engine – everything runs smoothly and amazingly powerful until a hair falls into the machine… and then it all blows up!  This is the risk of being in an unbalanced place… the jeopardy that exists being at one extreme of the polarity.

Martial artists need to be wary of being too focused on the physical in the pursuit of being a modern warrior to the detriment of the more creative, nurturing and feminine forces in our psyche.  As my meditation teacher says, these are powerful forces, and if neglected they will rise up and take their due.

The Samurai knew this to be true when they practiced the arts of bonsai, haiku and calligraphy.  The Celtic warrior priests knew this to be true when they blessed and buried the dead they had just slain.

Some practical suggestions to balance the yang aspects of training – tai chi, meditation, create a Zen garden, try out bonsai, drawing, writing poetry or prose, playing an instrument or joining a singing group.

wp_20161101_08_58_33_pro-2It is no surprise that the pursuits that the Western mindset has traditionally decried as being ‘optional’ – artistic and creative indulgences – are actually necessary requirements for living a full and engaged life.  In fact, these pursuits are often the saviour of those who have gone too far down one path and need to bring themselves back into alignment.

So bring some creativity into your life… but we’ll still see you on the mats!

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