I made the mistake of discussing religion with my parents the other night.
Among other things, I told my dad that I believe I’m a spiritual person because I’m involved in the martial arts. He told me he doesn’t believe that. I tried to tell him how the cultures who developed the martial arts I study (the Japanese and Chinese) are thousands of years older than when Jesus was born, but he shrugged it off.
I’m not going to tackle the issue of other cultures and religion. That’s a whole other topic. The issue is finding spirituality in the martial arts.
Spirituality, to me, means finding meaning in something in order for me to live a better lifestyle. Whether I choose to believe in a god to become spiritual or whether I choose to treat my body as a temple to become spiritual is my decision.
I work out to make my body stronger and protective, and to keep myself satisfied. Alternative kata interpretations or extensions keep my mind flexible and develop new tools, or enhance old ones. I concentrate on where my body is, how it relates to somebody else’s and what I need to do to attain maximum efficiency in a technique.
I spent seven years training in karate, but my instructors never focused much on the spiritual aspects. Having trained with an individual now who trains both holistically minded people and martial-arts minded people, I’ve come to appreciate the spiritual side more. Dealing with energy, yin and yang – it’s new ways to look at concepts that I’ve been familiar with for some time.
If my dad wants to believe he’s spiritual in his own way, that’s fine. But it’s completely wrong to believe that way is the only way.
So tell me, how do you believe the martial arts have helped you become more spiritual?