Guest Author - Caroline Chen-Whatley
Did you get a lot of presents for Christmas?
Did you enjoy your time with family and friends?
As we start the New Year and look ahead, I'd like to take a moment to talk about the true meaning of Martial Arts.
When we think about Martial Arts, we often think about the high flying kicks and fast moving punches of the movies. Or we picture the bloody to the death matches of MMA and UFC. We're enticed by the glamorous pictures of rock-hard abs and muscles galore. Or we see the serene images of an older woman or gentlemen at peace with the world and wish we could be them.
These are the images of media. They are only a glimpse into the world of Martial Arts. A storefront window, if you will, to what lies inside. If we didn't have these storefront windows, Martial Arts might not appeal to as many as it does.
But there's more to Martial Arts than just fighting and knowing moves. What distinguishes Martial Arts from just any fighting style or competition out there is the soul behind Martial Arts.
If you have studied Martial Arts, true Martial Arts, you will quickly learn that there is more to understanding Martial Arts than just learning the movements. Sure the movements are important and that is what distinguishes one style from another. But at the heart of Martial Arts is the totality of the person. Martial Arts is not just the study to better oneself physically but to better oneself emotionally and spiritually.
There's nothing wrong with studying Martial Arts for the moves or to get that rock-hard body or to reach that serenity. In order to fully accomplish anything in Martial Arts, you need to also study the mind. As the Chinese believe, the body and mind are one. A healthy mind will only come with a healthy body and vice versa. The Yin and the Yang. A healthy person will also have spiritual centeredness.
A lot of people are scared away by the concept of spirituality. In today's politically correct world, we either fear to alienate others or we fear those other spiritual ideologies. Either way, we rarely touch on the subject of spirituality.
Let me be clear. Spirituality is not religion. Religion is not necessarily spirituality either. Spirituality can be expressed through religion but should not be confused as being exclusive any religion. I am not Buddhist, but I once read a book by the Dalai Lama called Ancient Wisdom, Modern World - Ethics for a New Millennium. In it, he speaks of spirituality as more than just a religion but as a way of life. How we live and strive to live our life. How fulfilling life can be if we follow a spiritual path and transcend religion to come to an understanding of just being a better, more understanding, more giving person.
This is the heart of Martial Arts. In studying Martial Arts, one should also strive to become a better person. To learn to be less selfish. To give with an open heart and find joy and value in those around us that love us dearly.
As we start the New Year, let's each make a promise to strive to truly study Martial Arts. Let's become better people and fill the world with spirituality.