Firstly let me say that this blog article is not about the physical sense of balance, although that is critical to your martial arts. Maintaining your balance, while taking the balance of your attacker, is a key fundamental of your martial arts technique.
This piece is about balancing our emotional, mental and spiritual development. This is often referred to as the body-mind-spirit connection.
The Quantum Martial Arts logo includes the dragon guarding the yin yang symbol, with its 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 thinking, in particular 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.
The yin yang symbol also highlights how seemingly opposing or contrasting forces are actually 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. It cautions against the idea of total extremes.
This blog’s theme considers the need for balance in our martial arts journey and, more importantly, in our life.
Body vs Mind / Spirit
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. We know this from the time you very first start. When we ask the question, “what is important about martial arts to you?’, 90% of answers come back as ‘self defence’ and ‘fitness’. This is understandable.
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. To get the body – mind – spirit connection right, you obviously also need to work the mind and spirit.
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 by 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.
Creative and Nurturing Forces
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 and nurturing 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 and mindfulness training. For me personally, music plays a huge role in my emotional state and the task I am undertaking. I always have my music on ha ha. But the music also changes my state depending on what I need to do at a particular point in time. You need to find what works for you.
It is no surprise that the pursuits of the Western mindset have traditionally decried as being ‘optional’ – artistic and creative indulgences – are actually necessary for living a fulfilling 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. Did somebody say martial arts?
So bring some creativity into your life…and we will see you in the dojo!
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