How can martial arts help on the spiritual path, and how are they connected? How is it that these fighting skills that grew out of violent wars can be helpful in attaining peace of mind? How can these seemingly outdated methods be useful in modern life? In this episode, I’ll try to explain the link between martial arts and spirituality.
The various methods of fighting go back to early history, and back then it was all about survival. You could either defeat your opponent or die. So for those who wanted to stay alive in those turbulent times, becoming skillful in the art of combat was essential. Both in the East an the West, different schools appeared that developed distinct styles of martial arts.
However, all of these schools knew, that it would be highly irresponsible to teach the students about the most effective ways of defeating or even killing their enemies, without imparting moral wisdom onto them at the same time. They gave them power through knowledge, but this power had to be kept in check.
They didn’t train people to be efficient killing machines but to be noble warriors. In the West, this can be seen in the case of the Knight Templars and in their values of chivalry. In Asia, the best example is that of the samurai, who followed the way of the warriors, a set of moral codes of honour and ideals, collectively referred to as Bushido.
The samurai warriors are often contrasted with the ninjas, who followed no such code, but in spite of many myths, their tradition also contained spiritual elements. The ninjas simply couldn’t afford the luxury of honour and chivalry, they simply wanted to survive by any means. They were not allowed to carry weapons legally, and they were also vastly outnumbered.
Through their hardships, they learned how to live in perfect harmony with nature, how to adapt efficiently to any environment, and how to use almost anything as a weapon. They became so good at learning things that ninjutsu, the mystic arts of the ninja, encompassed almost all other forms of martial art and combat skill in itself.
However, for most of the martial arts that we know today, survival and self-defense was only secondary. It all started with Bodhidharma, an Indian Buddhist monk, who was invited to teach meditation at the Shaolin temple in China. When he saw the poor physical condition of the disciples there, he introduced a strict training regime. The main goal was to help them meditate better and longer, and it was only a side-effect that now they could also defend the monastery from robbers and attackers.
Martial arts were never just about physical and mental, but also about emotional and spiritual well-being. Sadly, most people today have forgotten about this essential connection between martial arts and spirituality. Nowadays, the two are separated almost entirely. Spiritual seekers forget about the importance of the body, while most martial arts have become sports, devoid of any spiritual meaning or significance.
But I have a much more holistic approach in this matter. If you want to experience wholeness in every area of life, you shouldn’t disregard any part of life. That’s the reason I personally prefer active meditations like trekking in the mountains, and that’s also why I was missing spiritual teachings when I was practicing martial arts in my teenage years.
I attended my first karate lesson at the age of 9, and I stayed with it for 10 years. Meanwhile, I also tried out judo, aikido and ju-jitsu. But my love has always been ninjutsu, the martial arts of the ninja. I used to want to travel to Japan, and dedicate my whole life to becoming a real ninja. This didn’t come true, and as there was no teacher around, I taught myself from books and practiced a lot. Although my interest eventually faded away, I incorporated many of the elements of ninjutsu into Immortology.
So now, I’d like to share with you five lessons I learned while practicing martial arts. Perhaps the most important one that I want to stress is that it’s not about being better than your opponent, but about becoming a better version of yourself. You are your own biggest enemy, and if you’ve defeated your own ego, nobody else can really defeat you. Comparing yourself to others just serves as an ego gratification. Instead, set your own standards, and compare your progress in the light of your own terms.
The second takeaway is that there’s no serious progress without self-discipline and dedication. When you see some of these masters practicing their art, at first it seems almost unbelievable that you could learn the same. But what you don’t see is the many years of sweat and tears, all the hard work they put into it day in and day out. They too started out as beginners, but they were the only ones who persevered, all the others quit at some point.
Martial arts teaches us that if we want to achieve anything of importance in life, we need to be seriously dedicated to reach our goals. We have to defeat our laziness, we have to get rid of our excuses, we have to discipline our minds and bodies, and refine our skills regularly.
The next lesson, connected to this one, is to never give up, no matter what. Like Rocky said: it’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit. While fighting for a goal, you’ll encounter many challenges, and some will hit you so hard, that you’ll fall onto the ground. But hitting rock bottom doesn’t make you a loser. If you can stand up again and again to continue the fight, you will inevitably win in the end.
Martial arts have also taught me that I’m more powerful than I think I am. I gained confidence, strength and balance, and not just physically, but in every aspect of life. Only if you explore the limits of your capabilities can you really know what they are. Your true powers lie beyond your comfort zone. Through hardship, discomfort and sometimes even pain, you become as hard as a blade forged in fire, because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
And the final lesson that martial arts can teach us about spirituality is to focus on the present moment. No warriors knew this better than the samurai, who were ready to face death at any moment. If you don’t focus on the here and now by emptying your mind, a deadly blow can strike you down when you least expect it.
To be successful in a real fight, first you have to learn the moves, but then you have to practice them so much that they become second nature. There’s no time for thinking in a dangerous situation, the best course of action is to rely on your instincts, and immerse yourself in the moment. Just like in a real fight, in real life you can only reach peace of mind and give an effective response, if you forget about the past and the future, and let something beyond you take over control.
In this free report, I’ll reveal my number one secret to spiritual enlightenment that almost nobody else speaks about. Download it now below, to find out what it is! I can guarantee you, you’ll be surprised!