Shifu Shi Yan Ming, founder of the Shaolin temple USA, describes his kung fu as being 'action meditation'.
For him, and potentially for all of us, martial arts are more than just a set of techniques for winning fights,
or some good exercise, it is a form of meditation. On this page is a breif article about how martial arts practice can become
a form of meditation for anyone, and the benefits that this can bring.
Meditation, in its simplest form, is the art of exercising control of the functions of your own mind. Initially this
entails clearing and emptying the mind, ceasing the mechanical and habitual flow of thought which arise of their own
accord, and follow on from one another mechanically by the laws of logic and association. This sounds like the simplest thing
in the world, but is actually the hardest.
In seeking to silence to logical part of our mind and cease the mechanical flow of thoughts physical exercise can be
very useful. This is because it can provide a distraction which does not dull the mind and put it into an entirely passive
mode (such as tv and so on), but which still gives one something to concentrate on in order to 'block out' our thoughts.
As is so well understood by Yogis, flexibility is also very important. In meditation flexibility of mind is paramount,
and we must not forget that mind and body are linked. An inflexible body encourages inflexibility of mind, and vice versa.
When you stretch try to feel as if you are stretching your whole being, not just your body, openning yourself up to new ways
of thinking and being.
And perhaps most importantly of all is the issue of control. Many people forget that meditation is not just about peace
and love - it is primarily about control - learning to control the mind and not to be controlled by it. And control is also
at the heart of martial arts practice - complete control of the body and all its functions, another thing which sounds very
easy but is actually very hard.
And when you really push yourself you find that the distinction between physical limitations and psychological limitations
becomes very blurred indeed. Reaching the pinnacle of physical performance is about 'diggin deep' and finding the psychological
strength to will yourself onwards, driving past your own barriers and beleiving you can do more - it requires not only
mastery of the body, but also of the mind. True kung fu is not about controlling or overcoming an opponent, but about overcoming
oneself, gaining complete mastery over ones own body and mind, and through tem, ones own fate.
In addition to this one must remember that at the pinnacle of kung fu the mind and body become one and everything becomes
the eternal moment - and this too is a state of being held in the highest regard in most schools of meditation; for more on
this aspect of kung fu take a look at our The Art of Fighting Without Fighting
Treat your kung fu like a spiritual discipline, practicing religiously and opening your mind to its spiritual benfits,
and you will not be dissapointed.