martial arts

We’ve all seen movies with mysterious masters that have physical abilities that tempt the laws of physics. Somehow, the power of their minds, the indestructible conviction that they will succeed in what they’re planning to do, gives them superhuman strength. Practicing a form of martial arts can allow us to improve these mental and spiritual abilities. Often, in the process of learning the skills, our willpower and commitment will be tested. There is usually a special connection with the teacher, that challenges us to push ourselves beyond our mental limitations, but that is also available for guidance in the moments we feel lost.

Besides becoming physically strong and agile, we learn a lot more that can be applied in our daily lives. We become self-aware and self-confident and we find a new approach to dealing with challenges. Instead of resisting things in life or responding paralyzed to stressful events, we find more adequate ways to respond to the challenges we are presented with. Also, we master the art of total focus. When we focus, the noises around us, the expectations of others, the pressures of deadlines, the inner voices we hear, no longer have the ability to distract us. It is a skill of zooming in to the moment so that nothing else around us seems to exists in that specific moment. This is an art of powerful meditation. And at the same time, it keeps our bodies highly trained. There are several popular martial art styles practiced today:

  • Kung Fu is a Chinese and acrobatic fighting style. The techniques are often inspired by animals, it can include tools or weapons and we see many flips and jumps. Tai Chi, which has many similarities to Qigong practice, is the ‘slow-motion’ style of Kung Fu, where the movements are performed very slowly but the energy of it is just as strong. Tai Chi is practiced in groups and not in combat settings.
  • Taekwondo is a Korean style, that was developed in cooperation between the military and scientists, to find the best techniques and teachings to create the strongest fighters. The style is known for the high kicks and flips and during the practice, there is a lot of attention for mental aspects.
  • Capoeira is a Brazilian style, that is not immediately recognized as a martial art, because it looks more like dancing acrobatics. It was developed by Angolan slaves to disguise their fighting moves as dance. The practice is performed in a circle, accompanied by instruments like the berimbau.

Besides the option to find classes close to home, it could be a consideration to travel to a traditional master and participate in a retreat-style martial art practice. This is can have a life-changing impact, as it combines learning the new skills, with an intimate experience of different cultures and traditions, the freedom of an extended amount of time away from our usual routines, and other adventures we experience during the trip.