Improve your Mental Strength
By: D Norfolk elementalkickboxing, kickboxingleeds, mentalstrength, mindmatters
We all know about the physical advantages of martial arts training and the changes to our body when we undergo a training regime. But what are the changes that happen in the deepest recesses of our mind, what behaviour does it promote and how does it affect us mentally. We look into some of the advantages both in and outside of the ring.
“Nobody is strong and nobody is weak if he conceives of the body, from the head to the sole of the foot, as a unity in which a living mind circulates everywhere equally.” - Miyamoto Musashi1 1584-1645 (Japanese swordsman, philosopher, strategist, writer and ronin)
Yes, for the meticulous amongst you, you will know that the owner of my quote above has cropped up before in the space of my blogs. And yes, guilty as charged, I am massive fan of his teachings and literary writings. Not because he was one of the greatest samurais2 in the history of Japanese culture, not because he would defeat people with little more than a bokken3, against live steel. The reason I like to use his quote is, well he understood, he understood that a lot of what are deemed the martial arts : Boxing4, Kenpo5, Krav Maga6, Tang Soo Do7, Defendu8, Vale Tudo9, the list is endless, are as much about the mind as they are about the body. Their cohesive relationship is all important in any training, but it is one people often forget about.
How many times have you had a bad sparring match or training session, because you were not in the right head space? I’m sure you can answer this question easily. It can be a question of training your mind and your body equally. It is the reason that boxers/ MMA10 fighters have time before a fight, it is part of the samurai’s morning ritual11. Placing yourself in the right frame of mind, but it is not all one way.
Not only do you build up your own mental strength, this can also giveback to you in ways that you wouldn’t imagine. You will remember, or if you haven’t then go read my blog Animus. In this a touched briefly on the mental benefits of martial arts and something, we will grow further in this discussion.
Your mind, your brain indeed is set to a very Reptilian Response12, by this I don’t mean you are a gecko. This is a psychological term for the ‘fight or flight’ response, we all have it, but some have shorter triggers than the rest of us.
Physical training, especially training in the martial arts, helps us to develop systems to steer away from this primitive response. It helps and gives us proficiency in a number of areas. Below I have marked these areas as a diagram (See figure1.0), in which I have included where they relate in training and where they relate in the outside world as a whole.
Figure 1.0: Mental advantages of martial arts training
Now, some of the confidence aspects, would be associated with any sort of physical training and body improvement, but martial arts includes far more than just an improvement due to the diverse nature of its structure.
More than this, martial arts are not just a way to get fit, physically and mentally. It teaches you about people and it broadens your horizons as a whole, encouraging you to do a thing that you may have not already tried.
A quote from Mark Twain13, states that what one must do is “Eat a live frog every morning…”, this is nothing to do with protein or a weird bent that he had. The meaning of this is that you should do something that makes you uncomfortable at least once a day, in the whole ‘When you stop growing, you start dying’14 mindset. Which appeals to people in different ways.
I as a long-time learner of things enjoy the idea of the multiple benefits I get from martial arts, and I try to be the best student of all its aspects. I like it the historic and practical applications of the training, and as previously discussed martial arts are something that fascinates me greatly.
But you don’t have to be in depth with this kind of thing, like most things in life, it is up to you how you take it and to what level you acknowledge it. However, there are so many gifts both physical and metal with something like martial arts, it is a virtual treasure trove, why not dip in and take a few you didn’t know existed.
Grow your own mental skills, it’s the mind that drives he body, going back to our opening quote, without this relationship between both, one can never truly succeed.
Musashi, Miyamoto, 2002, The Book of Five Rings, First Edition, Kodanshu International Ltd
Tsunetomo, Yamamoto, 2002, Hagakure, New Hard Cover Edition, Kodanshu International Ltd