When practicing martial arts, physical wellness is very important. However, it is equally, if not even more important to be certain that while training your body, you also train your mind. Ronny Yu is a well renowned film director, writer and producer who once said, “Martial arts are a spiritual challenge, not a physical one.” By this, Yu means that martial artists must challenge their minds in order to overcome the physical challenges that they meet both in practice and in combat.
Moral Codes: Martial Arts includes moral values for their students to keep in mind at all times. These values may differ between individuals and schools but they all refer back to the same ideas. Many of these moral values strive for perfection of personal character, fostering a spirit of effort, and honoring the rules of etiquette. These components are all in place to help promote physical and mental relaxation, the control of the mind and body, and to increase self confidence.
Bruce Lee speaks of three components of Martial Arts that he found were most helpful in his training. His three components are health promotion, cultivation of the mind and self protection. When practicing, you can take these suggestions and ideas and formulate them to a plan and way of thinking that stimulates your own physical and mental growth.
Pre-Combat: Before heading into a match, adopt the persona of a winner. Shake your body out, hold your head high and smile. It is natural to feel anxious before a match, but if you are taking shallow breaths and looking at the floor you’re closing yourself off for the potential to win. Let your adrenaline drive you forward!
Have faith in your training. You know just as much during a match as you do during practice! Don’t let the idea of a match overcome you and cause you to lose sight of what you know you can do, and what you have done before in practice.
On the Mat: Once you step onto the mat, think only about your skills and funnel your attention directly toward the match. Don’t think about winning or losing. Remain present and trust your mind to direct your physical wellness to the outcome you deserve. Commit yourself to the moment and as time progresses in your match, your calmness and ability will trump your opponent’s.
Off the Mat: With any sport there is always the potential for a win or a loss. Come to terms with the fact that either outcome is possible. Treat a loss as a personal gain, each experience within martial arts comes with progression towards a personal goal. Allow your mind to accept a loss as a learning experience and transfer the emotion behind your match into fuel for your Martial Arts journey and growth toward your future.
A humble attitude in martial arts creates growth. When you win, instead of acting as though you are invincible, channel that incredible feeling into knowledge for your future. Think about what you did on the mat that worked and how you treated your body and mind before the match, then use these tips for preparation in future competitions. One win does not ensure that you will always win in the future. Do not allow a win to be an end point. Continue to train just as hard after a win as you did before a win. If you accept the level at which you win, then you will no longer make room for yourself to grow.
Write down the mentality that you wish to adapt towards martial arts. Create personal goals and think about the mental state you hope to encompass at each stop along the way. Bumps along your path can be up cycled into fuel for future success. Utilize the words of your idols to think about your personal moral values and how you wish to translate those through your sport. Most importantly, maintain a positive outlook on your sport and remember why you began in the first place!