Your Mind: another part of your body to be trained
The difference between Amateurs and Professionals
Most sports enthusiasts, regardless of the discipline they practice, think of physical training and correct lifestyle as the two most important elements that lead to success. Professional athletes, on the other hand, know well that having control of the Mind plays a fundamental role in not just not slowing performance down, but boosting the endurance of each single muscle and fiber of the body as well. Under this point of view, Mental Training in Martial Arts stands out as a comprehensive, if not the best, method for simultaneously training both your Mind and your Body.
The Uncontrolled Mind: the worst Enemy
Martial Arts, being based on combat and defense, cannot be perturbed in dealing with useless distractions, as they are founded on survival principles: when life puts you to test, you don’t want your Mind to fight against you, so it’s clear how determining it is to minimize risks. Martial practitioners know too well how hard it is to train their mind, and the reason is simple: unlike your abs that can get used to continuous training and basically follow your instructions, your Mind will always find a way to quit training. Not only is the Mind lazy, but it’s also astute: just like Lucignolo (Candlewick) with Pinocchio, it will do its best to bombard you with negative thoughts and find its own way to bypass solutions.
Mental Training in Martial Arts Training, supported by mind-focused practices like Meditation and Qi gong, help Martial Artists not to become a slave of their own thoughts, but gradually become Masters over their Mind, until one day they will realize that escaping that cage was not that impossible, and watching that cage from a far distance will be one of the most satisfying feelings ever. Unfortunately, as hard it is for you to take control over your Mind, as easy it is for her to go back to wonderland. Many of you will remember the myth of Ulysses and the Sirens: well, according to this myth, your Mind will always find the voice of the Sirens too tempting, so you need to be strong if you want your Mind to stay under control, as voiding such a hard internal work is so easy and may lead you to give up and starting from scratch would be the most likely scenario if you end up surrendering. An expert Martial Artist trains hard to accomplish this difficult task, and the ultimate goal of mental training in martial arts is achieving a state of constant Mental Toughness.
According to Oriental culture, what affects your Mind affects your body, and vice-versa
Mind and Body as a whole
Regardless of the origin of this sentence, what we just stated above can be experienced everyday in our life: when we feel down or even depressed, our body will lower its energy level in response, and what’s worse is that it will do this for days and days after the shock. Same way, when we get injured our mood lowers consequently, irrespective of how painful the injury was. Now, if this happens to “common people”, can you imagine what happens to athletes or sports enthusiasts who train on a regular basis? The consequences could be devastating if their Mind is not properly trained.
Just like in the “Fifteen Puzzle” invented by Noyes Palmer Chapman, our Mind works the same way: if it is full of thoughts, all the little tiles cannot move, therefore our Mind becomes stagnant and nothing useful comes out of it: only the same, boring and self-destructive thoughts. Find a way to lower the stress caused by too many thoughts in your Mind, by letting go few of them to start with, and gradually carry on until you hear the echo coming from your Mind.