Martial Arts Meditation – Why Do It?

What is the purpose of opening meditation?

Beginning of test, martial arts meditation

Clearing the mind.

Many martial arts classes, especially traditional ones, begin with an opening “martial arts meditation.” During this time, students are asked to close their eyes and try to clear their minds. Its nothing crazy, and it’s not even inherently religious (unless you want it to be).

So, why do we do it?

Well, there are lots of reasons! Here’s a list:

  • Martial arts meditation helps you deliberately separate training time from rest of daily activities.

  • Martial arts meditation helps you enter a martial arts class with an open mind and a blank slate.

  • Martial arts meditation helps you to take a momentary pause from the pace and stress of life.

  • Martial arts meditation helps you to cultivate focus and a strong “martial spirit.”

But let’s talk about the “why” you should do all those things!!! 

Why should you separate training time from the rest of your day?

Martial arts class is a special part of your day. You put on your uniform and tie your belt, and dedicate a whole hour (or more) to trying your hardest and doing your best at things that are probably not part of your daily routine, like punching, kicking, and using weapons. Opening meditation helps you prepare for the demands of the dojo. Martial arts takes a lot of energy and effort, both mental and physical.

bo work

Why should you enter martial arts class with an open mind and a blank slate?

We ask our students to focus on getting ready to learn during their opening quiet time. By visualizing this, students become more receptive and better focused for class. This leads to a better practice with greater learning. If you approach class this way, even as a high ranked black belt, you stay humble AND get better, faster.

Why should you “take a break” from daily stress?

Lots of reasons for this one! Most of us rush from one thing to the next without stopping. Our minds race (even if you think yours doesn’t, it does), and sometimes we feel overwhelmed. When we take a moment to clear our mind, we can start to sort through priorities. We start to realize how much we do need to take time for ourselves. We realize how a moment of silence can be rejuvenating, invigorating, and healing.

A moment to truly relax is a precious moment indeed! And it’s great for your overall health and wellbeing.

Breath practice, martial arts meditation

Why should you cultivate strong focus and “martial spirit?”

Simply, the ability to focus drives most successes in life. It supports good listening skills (important for strong interpersonal relationships), and supports self-motivation, discipline, and the ability to “get things done.” Focus is one of the most important skills martial arts students practice! (Plus it makes your kata look awesome!)

Martial spirit, though, gets at the idea of the inner fabric and character of a warrior. Warriors act calmly and with intent in times of crisis—and isn’t that a great skill to have? Whether it’s a rigorous math class, important job interview, or a work conflict with big implications, the warrior can handle it responsively, with grace and skill.

Hansens last class

Yes, a few moments of meditation can do all this for you. It won’t happen overnight though!

So, how can you practice the skill of martial arts meditation more often?

Try closing your eyes and taking three deep breaths throughout your day. You’ll feel lighter, happier, and more relaxed & grounded.

In fact, try it now. It’s a good feeling, isn’t it?

About Sensei/YDN Caitlin

Sensei Yudanjanim Caitlin is a 2nd degree black belt, senior instructor, administrative assistant, and student of Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Arnis at Northwest School of Martial Arts.
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