The Science behind why Martial Arts Meditation leads to Stress Free Living

The Science behind why Martial Arts Meditation leads to Stress Free Living

“In most if not all martial arts, there is some form of integrative meditation component that forms the building blocks of a balanced yet formidable martial artist… half the battle is won and lost in the mind,” says Nicholas Bruce in his in depth article in the Business Day, May 2018.

Standing meditation in Tai Chi

The article explains how martial arts like karate and tai chi can help us develop the ability to prevent ourselves going into the fight/flight response.  When we don’t have this ability, we can lose part of our logical thinking faculty and can make less healthy decisions, and we find it harder to manage our emotions.

One of the key ways that martial arts helps one to be stress free, is its meditation component.

We ask Sensei Leo Ming to give his input on this key element of martial arts training, and encourage you to learn more about the science and research into this aspect, in Bruce’s article.

 

Q: What is Beginners Mind and why is it important in martial arts training?

Leo:  Sho Shin…beginner mind… This is such an important concept in the martial arts. We always have the ego which gets in the way of the reason for doing our martial arts. We get side tracked, whether it be from something visual, something external that catches our eye, or from an internal thought. A simple example would be when we are trying too hard to impress others, or wanting to over achieve in class. Once this happens your ‘way’ (or dao) is lost. We need to always remember to keep our training pure and authentic.

There is a saying that in the beginners mind there are countless possibilities, but in the experts mind there is only one. Thus we get stuck because we think that something can only be done in a certain way, and that our way is the ‘correct’ way.

If we look at children, they are very spontaneous and have an open energy. It is free, uncluttered, and natural. They can absorb but they can also let go of. They cry with intensity, and then it’s all over. We want to train to attain our original mind, our spontaneous and empty mind – this is a good example of sho shin.

More often than not we bring our baggage wherever we go, in the dojo, onto the court, on the field, even into our homes.  This weight prevents us from flowing and feeling the moment.

Q: What are the benefits of this ‘beginners mind’ for life outside the dojo?

Leo: There are so many. A few benefits are:

  • learning confidence
  • learning about breath control – for anxiety and for focus
  • letting go of the ego – developing humility
  • growing your perseverance and overcoming obstacles,
  • and overcoming stress build up.

    Martial Arts meditation in Wudang Mountains, China

 

Q: What is meditation in Martial Arts?

Leo: It is essentially learning self introspection, being aware of self, being aware of breath, emptying the mind -having the beginner mind.

Q: What aspects of your teaching do you do to encourage this development?

Leo: Meditation is one of the teachings that I integrate into all my classes- to learn patience with the process. Mindfulness is learnt through meditation as well as through self perfection of techniques. One trains a single technique repetitively until it becomes part of you, or you become part of it, hundreds and thousands of times until you reach a state of ‘no-mind’  or mu-shin. Everything muscle and tendon is relaxed, flowing and natural, yet filled with chi. This is something which cannot be replicated through learning theory.  You need to experience it.

We welcome you to join us for a complimentary class, so you can experience a taste of Sho Shin, and the benefits of becoming a martial artist.

 

For more about Tai Chi and Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

“In most if not all martial arts, there is some form of integrative meditation component that forms the building blocks of a balanced yet formidable martial artist… half the battle is won and lost in the mind,” says Nicholas Bruce in his in depth article in the Business Day, May 2018. The article explains how …

How to prepare for Grading in Karate

How to prepare for Grading in Karate

Part of Karate is the process of grading.

What is Grading?

Gradings are a test of your skills and how they are integrated.  As you reach higher levels in your ability and understanding of martial arts, students must also be able to do more skillful and precise moves.

During black belt grades- the highest levels – students are tested physically and mentally, and then in their knowledge of theory as well.

Coloured Belts

Achievement of a grade is represented by a coloured belt.

“In the West, the emphasis is too one sided on belts. A belt holds one’s pants up. Yet it is also a visual illustration of the length of time a student has trained in Karate” explains Sensei Leo Ming.

“Usually there are what we call ‘kyu’ or rankings. There are about 8 to 10 kyus depending on the style, before one gets black belt.”

Essentially the first belt is white, representing purity and being a novice, as in ‘being empty’.  Then after passing through many other coloured belts, we reach the black belt.  Again, the black represents the ‘start of’ another phase, or the start of the journey.

Black belts are called ‘dan’ of which there are 10. There are also more specific names given at 5th dan, then again at 8th and again at 10th.

“When the black belt eventually fades back into white, one has gone full circle – back to novice” enlightens Sensei.

Preparation for Karate Grading

Preparation of gradings takes time and patience.   The time students spent committed to come to classes will show.

Their ability to overcome challenges from their previous grading, like if the student has improved on not only his/her strengths, but also weaknesses, is also looked at during a grading session.

Failure

Failure is difficult to deal with.   There can be so many areas that resulted in the ‘failure’, like nerves, physical technical errors, a poor mental attitude on the day, anxiety levels.

Even the fear of failure itself can cause the frozen rabbit syndrome – where a well-prepared student can just go blank and lose focus, displaying a poor level of skill.

If a student failed and didn’t get the next belt, it may cause that student to put more time and energy into their training, or it may cause them much inner disruption and mental and emotional issues for them.

“I think this is all part of the ‘belt’ and grading learning.  It’s what you do with the result.”  Leo encourages.  “But eventually the persistence pays off into a new level of confidence and further humility.”

Participate in Gradings

There are benefits to students to work towards their next grade, and want to progress through all the gradings.  Sensei Leo adds:

“I think the main aim is to set a goal for oneself to overcome. There are a few students who I’ve taught who don’t want to grade and just want to train for the sake of training.”

All approaches are welcome, and each student sets for themselves their goals to work towards.

We hope you will join us on your journey through the colours of the ‘kyu’, or rankings in Kobujutso Karate.

 

For more about Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Part of Karate is the process of grading. What is Grading? Gradings are a test of your skills and how they are integrated.  As you reach higher levels in your ability and understanding of martial arts, students must also be able to do more skillful and precise moves. During black belt grades- the highest levels …

Beijing

Beijing

On our field trip to China in April 2018, we spent some time exploring Beijing.

This is a bustling city, with its 30 million residents and many cars and scooters.  A prominent feature was the domino-like apartments that continue for miles across the city.


Another striking aspect was one of the forms of transport – there are bicycles which can be unlocked via an app from your cell phone.  You can then hop on the bike, cycle to your destination, and then park the bicycle on the sidewalk, leaving it there ready for the next traveller. It has a run-flat tyre too!

 

Palaces

Beijing is also known for their palaces.  A stroll around the Forbidden City within

Elderly man in the Forbidden City

Beijing allowed us to notice the people, and to admire the largest collection in the world of preserved ancient wooden structures.  Therefore, it’s a World Heritage Site.

It took 14 years to build, starting in 1406 and its 980 buildings cover 180 acres of land.  The Forbidden City was the home of the emperors, and for almost 500 years it also acted as the central place for ceremonies and politics of the Chinese Government

Summer Palace visitors

We also enjoyed an outing to the nearby Summer Palace, 15 km northwest of Beijing.  It is a World Heritage Site and is one of the best preserved regal gardens in the world.

In 1750 Emperor Qianglong build the Summer Palace, and today it holds over 3000 houses, covering an area of 70 000 square meters.   It has a landscape of hills and a man-made lake, with many beautiful walkways, bridges that arch, corridors innately decorated, and palaces and temples at many turns.

Practicing calligraphy at the Summer Palace

Tai Chi in Beijing

Beijing has a lot to offer, and like in most cities in China, taiji and qi gong are popular arts, together with badminton, playing music, singing, and various card and board games.  All of these are practiced and played by the locals in the parks of the cities.

A festive mood on the Summer Palace boat

 

 

> Missed any blogs about our China Trip?  Check the list here.

On our field trip to China in April 2018, we spent some time exploring Beijing. This is a bustling city, with its 30 million residents and many cars and scooters.  A prominent feature was the domino-like apartments that continue for miles across the city. Another striking aspect was one of the forms of transport – …

Leo’s Top Tips to keep Safe

Leo’s Top Tips to keep Safe

With a background of over 40 years in Martial Arts and teaching self-defence, Sensei Leo Ming shares some of his tips and strategies for keeping safe and avoiding situations where we are an easy target to criminals and might be threatened.

These points to remember are especially relevant for those living in big cities like Johannesburg, where there is a high risk of being mugged, or car hi-jacked.

When in Car Parks

  • Place your valuables in your boot, out of sight.
  • Make sure your vehicle is locked once you’ve parked it. Double check that it is locked, as Car-jamming devices are a common means to gain entry into your car after you have left it.
  • Don’t be distracted by checking your phone, and rather be aware of your surroundings. Scan the area and notice if there are any loiterers around.
  • Park in an area which is not out of sight or tucked around the corner. However, also try not to park in between large cars where your car is hidden. Parking out of sight will make it easier for hijackers to accost you.
  • It is preferable to also park your car nose out, by reverse parking it into the parking spot.
  • When returning to your car, have your keys in hand, so that you don’t have to be looking for them when you get to your car.
  • Don’t dawdle to your car and once you are inside your car, don’t linger and delay leaving the car park.
  • If possible be with someone. If you are alone, your first defence is your awareness – especially of loiterers.
  • When possible, get the car guard to help you with loading your shopping packets into the car, while you keep scanning your surroundings.

When Driving to leave or enter home or work, at the gate on the street

  • Awareness is so important. Notice other cars in the street, people hanging around the gate or walking nearby, and look out for anything suspicious or unusual.
  • Be cautious in driveways – do not hang around waiting in the driveway or when entering apartment complexes. Boomed off areas can be used as a trap area for car hijacks.
  • Be extra vigilant in dimly lit areas or quiet side roads.
  • If anything seems out of place or suspicious, rather drive away and call for help before returning.

When Walking

  • Be aware of your surroundings. So don’t walk with your awareness in your phone checking social media.  Notice what is happening around you.
  • Walk in a busy area if possible.
  • And walk with others if possible.
  • If it is a casual walk, leave all your valuables at home. Carry your mace / whistle/ body alarm / weapon of choice.
  • Walk with a dog if possible.

When waiting at a Bus Stop or for an Uber Taxi

  • Yet again safety starts with awareness. Notice what is going on around you.
  • Know your bus stop or Uber pick up point and its surroundings.
  • Know the arrival times of your bus or taxi. Time your arrival to the bus stop or pick-up point to avoid waiting too long for the bus/taxi.
  • Avoid being on your phone texting while waiting for the bus. If you are checking your phone for your Uber details, be sure to keep aware too of your surroundings.
  • Be vigilant of loiterers.

How can learning Tai Chi and Karate help with developing a sense of Self-Defense?

Martial arts brings awareness to one’s behaviour.  It also develops an attitude  of alertness and awareness to ones surroundings.   Awareness is key to one’s own safety.

The next aspect is self-protection. Not only does martial arts teach us basic self defence movements, it also teaches us confidence in bodies and in ourselves. With this confidence we can have a different insight and awareness to the world around us, and a more assertive response which is needed to protect ourselves.

One also learns and understands the psyche of people and potential threats through training in martial arts.

All these give us a better insight of scenarios and hopefully our coping skills are heightened.

Be aware, and be safe!

 

For more about Self-Defence and Martial Arts classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

With a background of over 40 years in Martial Arts and teaching self-defence, Sensei Leo Ming shares some of his tips and strategies for keeping safe and avoiding situations where we are an easy target to criminals and might be threatened. These points to remember are especially relevant for those living in big cities like …