Martial Art Harmony

Discipline, Passion, Peace

Author/Editor: Jennifer J. Lacelle
September 20, 2021

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.’

‘Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” ― Bruce Lee.

Arguably one of the world’s greatest and more famous martial artists in history, Bruce Lee shared his knowledge and talent with us and brought about a new era for the discipline of martial arts in the west. While he died from a brain edema at a very young age (32) he made a such a strong impact in film and martial arts as a child and young adult that numerous movies have been made about him since his death.

The What and When

Martial arts are a very particular style of “sport” that originated from self-defence and attacking disciplines. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of styles from across the world. Each one originating in their own unique way, location and adaptation. Some of the more popular styles in North America include Karate, Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Boxing, Kickboxing, Aikido and Hapkido.

Thanks to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) there’s more and more spotlight falling on different disciplines, most notably is MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Some who have trained in traditional martial arts don’t believe MMA is a true style, but it is effective when it comes to stepping into the cage. However, fighters need to have a well-rounded set of skills before entering the match.

There are some main types of martial arts that can be grouped into unarmed or armed. Obviously, the one that’s unarmed will predominantly focus on strikes with body parts (like feet, hands, knees or elbows). Those that use weapons as their main implement are going to be swordsmanship, archery, kendo, spearsmanship, staff, etc.  

When it comes to the history of martial arts, there aren’t too many records indicating which was the first to develop and in what region. However, Asia seems to have a strong hold on this title with the numerous styles that have emerged and grown throughout history. Some records indicate various dates at 2600 BCE to 3000 BCE.

There are even some claims that the origin stems from Europe. According to this source, the name translates to “arts of Mars” — a Roman deity whom they would pray to for success on the battlefield. This god had a strong influence over Rome, a country which dominated the continent for many years and provided its own influence over its conquered lands. It states the 15th century Europeans sought names for their own methods of combats and landed on “martial arts.”

It would be fair to say that the true origin is a mystery as cultures and countries since the beginning of our recorded history have had some sort of combat sports and simulations embedded within their societies.

The Peace Within

While it’s not necessarily spirituality, many of the eastern martial arts are heavily influenced by Daoism and Zen Buddhism. This helps the mental state of the practitioner become one with the body and react in harmony with itself.

Monks weren’t always martial artists, they mostly focused on spirituality and meditation. However, that left them defenseless and lacking a balance. They began training in martial arts and now it’s commonplace for people to associate monks as practitioners of the arts. They also found many other reasons to incorporate the combative sports into their lifestyle.

Often, meditation is used as a means of learning concentration (among other things) and this aspect of martial arts may or may not be included in classes. Meditation is a way of connecting the mind to the body, and is also being linked to improved immune function.

Artists may find themselves more focused on the skills they’re learning that day, calmer after a stressful situation, and less inclined to act aggressively. In fact, one of the fundamental teachings in traditional martial arts is to avoid fighting. One of martial arts philosophies is to reduce harm and promote peace and harmony, both within and externally.

Remember what Lee said? He told us to be formless, to be like water, and to empty our minds. When this state occurs, we are in a moment of peace and tranquility, we are listening to our bodies and able to be formless, to move like water — which always finds a way.

Other Benefits

By practicing martial arts, you’ll find yourself beginning a whole new journey of health and wellness. Because of the impact on practitioners mentally, physically and spiritually, students will come out of classes with more self-discipline. This in turn can help you make better choices, including rest and nutrition.

Because it’s an overall body workout it helps you reach peak physical performance. There’s a reason many athletes choose to cross-train in martial arts. Not to mention, your body is going to work on removing the extra fat storage while building up lean muscle mass. This works in conjunction with the better choices of nutrition to help melt away the extra pounds.

Stress! The internal killer… You’ll find yourself more relaxed after taking a class. Physical exercise also burns off the stress hormone, cortisol. Whether it’s pounding out the frustration on a bag or meditating your way to a state of better understanding, or a combination, that level of stress in your body is going to decline. Training places students in a state of present moment, which helps that tension from the day melt away like ice cream on a hot summer day. The body is also releasing endorphins as it moves, which will increase your mood.

*The views and opinions contained within subjects, content, information, data and imagery does not necessarily reflect those of iinta, iinta’s staff, or iinta’s affiliates. This article is not intended to be a replacement for medical diagnosis, information or treatment, etc. ALWAYS see your medical provider. For full disclosure statement, please visit our Disclosure Page.

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