Body, mind and martial arts

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There’s a lot to getting started in a new martial art and when I was deciding on taking up a new one quite a bit of thought went into it. A lot of the skills are mercifully transferable. And I’ve been doing martial arts for effectively my whole life. I did have a couple of breaks at various points in my life, including some periods that lasted for a couple of years, but it’s been a big passion of mine since I was young. Even in phases during life when I was a martial arts partitioner in name only, it remained in my thoughts and I never stopped enjoying watching others perform martial arts and reading books, magazines and blogs about it.

Don’t think mastery was the reason I wanted to try something new—not at all the case, I wasn’t the best at the different forms of martial arts I practised but just an enthusiastic fan. Even though it had been always inadvertent, these little breaks were important to my martial arts development. In the intervening periods of, let’s call it sloth, I spent noticeably more time reading—sometimes reading about topics totally unrelated to martial arts, but at other times delving into a martial art,  its development and history. For me this was as much fun as physically trying it out.. While it’s undeniable that the one factor all martial arts have in common is training one’s r body, the mind is also a critical part of it all.

One of the advantages of having pauses from martial arts, is that when I returned to the world of martial arts I would often try a new sort. When I broke my leg in a car crash as a young adult, I decided not to get back into karate when the leg mended itself, but in the meantime I had taken to reading a bit about taekwondo. A few years after the accident, the change of circumstance and lifestyle happened when I moved to the city to go to university. I accidentally gave up taekwondo after a year or two and it wasn’t until I graduated university and took a job that I started a new martial art—jiu jitsu, something that, believe or not, I hadn’t heard of until I was in my 20s.

Sometimes one gets too focused physical elements when there’s so much to be learned and experienced in the mental and even emotional realms Many of the more ancient martial arts have a spiritual component as well as a philosophical one. In my periods of inactivity apropos of martial arts it always gave me the mental space to develop the mind and that always brought me back to the sport.

If you’re considering starting something new, I would urge you to consider not simply the physical aspect of the sports, but also the mental. Chances are that if you’re already an athlete if you’re considering branching out and therefore whatever skills you already have will be transferable in one way or another. However, it might be a mental challenge that you’re after, in which be sure to read up on the history and philosophy before you head down to the gym.