The relationship between the mind, body, and spirit is something we cannot ignore. While often overlooked, it is the bond between all three that allows us to realize the fullest potential of who we are. The connection among the divine three is and has – particularly in the West – always been seen as three separate things. However, in Chinese culture, these are seen as one. It is through the combination of all three that we can reach a wholeness in being.

Mind-Body-Spirit Connection

Mind Body Spirit: The Mind

Mind Body Spirit

Since ancient times, martial arts have never been solely about combat. While they may teach the practitioner techniques in order to defend themselves against attackers, there has always been a deeper relationship with nurturing the mind and spirit. For this reason, meditation has always been a salient part of defining martial arts. When a person dives deep into the practice, they are taught to empty out their mind, aiming to achieve a sense of clarity and sensitivity to their surroundings.

Through martial arts, a person learns to refine their level of focus. There is a level of intensity that comes from sitting back, listening to one’s inner voice, and learning how to cancel out the incessant noise of everything else. By pushing one’s stamina and stretching the joints as far as they can, there will be moments when the mind wanes. It is in these moments that martial arts teach practitioners how to discern the true self that actually is from the disillusionments of what they think they are.

Both the mind and body go hand in hand, as a fighter that has learned to stabilize his mind will always defeat one that has not placed much attention on cultivating his own. Ask any experienced fighter out there, and he or she will likely tell you how much of an impact psychological preparation has on the physical outcome of combat.

The difference between those who train the mind and those who don’t is tremendous, as it is as obvious as facing off against someone who enters a bout with a string of confidence versus someone who begins to doubt at the first moment of hesitation.

Mind Body Spirit: The Body

Mind Body Spirit

Martial arts are all about synergy. It requires the practitioner to use their whole body in a fluid and controlled manner. Due to the fact that martial arts is a aerobics intensive exercise, it requires the practitioner to use each and every muscle to execute the moves. Through concentration, a person undoubtedly improves their stamina, balance, flexibility, reflexes, and strength.

Not only will our body physically develop through martial arts, but it has been noted that people can burn up to 500 calories in a single hour session from the cardiovascular workout involved. On top of that – like any intense training – people become more conscious about the foods they eat and, in turn, start to modify their diet accordingly. With martial arts being a form of exercise, immersing ourselves in it will only help regulate better moods, healthier lifestyles, and enhanced senses of self. By balancing the mind and body together, we can then begin to cultivate the third element that is wholly definitive of the practice: the spirit.

Mind Body Spirit: The Spirit

Mind Body Spirit

One of the largest elements that distinguish martial arts from anything else is its emphasis toward the philosophies of facing ourselves. We are our greatest enemy. It is only through confronting the faults that define who we are, and grinding to overcome them – while learning the importance of patience and humility – can we make the small steps toward a better self.

A rather prominent maxim in Chinese – and one that is heavily applied in martial arts – is “chi ku” or literally translated as ‘eat bitter.’ It refers to the prevalent idea that nothing in life is always sweet, and with that understanding we must learn to face the bitterness that comes our way. While this is something that many parents pass onto their children as a way to prepare their child for the real world, in martial arts, it is the philosophy in knowing hardships are what will ultimately help build our spirits high.

It teaches students that we cannot always do that which is easy and fun. In order to develop ourselves further, sometimes we must ‘eat bitter’ to move forward, persevering through the tough times so that we can obtain the greater goal that waits on the other side.

Furthermore, one requisite that is always included in mastering the finer side of martial arts is educating ourselves in morality and philosophy. Bruce Lee, one of the largest legends in martial arts was widely known for his way of personal truth, now known as jeet kune do. His philosophy focuses on seeking the truth of your inner self, as he was a believer that through that, we could unlock the greatest potentials of who we are. As Lee once stated, “In order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature.”

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