It’s no secret, life is tough. Not only that, but it’s not fair. Very few places are a refuge and offer what the rest of the world does not.
To many, the Dojo, the martial arts school, is a sanctuary. It is a place where hard work actually pays off. It’s also a place that works really well for releasing pent-up energy.
You just got in a fight with your girlfriend, you can’t find a girlfriend, the boss is controlling, co-workers are abusive and the bills are piling up.
Suddenly your on the mat with friendly training partners and a caring instructor: Beating the tar out of each other.
You are forced to pay attention to what’s in front of you, the lesson, the beating, the blood, sweat and tears. You’re not thinking of those problems now, they’re a million miles away.
Stress Builds Up Energy in a Bad Way
A human being is built to handle stress through the body’s natural responses of getting the heart beating faster, tightening the muscles, the body readying itself for dealing with a threat: The body gets ready to fight or flee; the old flight or flight response that we’ve had since prehistoric times. Turns out, in modern times, this response just gives us heart disease and a neck with loads of knots in it. No fun.
Sweat it out with a partner, spar with him. Hit that bag for even a few minutes. That energy is released. You’ve taken care of that flight or fight response in one place: The friendly neighborhood Dojo. The muscles are no longer tense, the heart rate is normal, you feel relaxed, the adrenaline has stopped pumping.
The Mind Stops Chattering
We human beings have quite the advanced brain, compared to the rest of the animal kingdom. One thing that sets us apart from our primate ancestors is the fact that the human brain can handle complex operations; plan ahead, time things correctly, synchronize brain and body. It also means we think too much. Problems in life are exacerbated by our unfortunate ability to think and analyze. Pretty soon we’ve thought ourselves into a corner, trapped by our anxious thoughts.
Until we get on the mat and must pay attention to the lesson. Well, the fist is flying at us, we have to pay attention.
Plus, it’s interesting. Your solving real problems and puzzles on the mat, getting your body and mind in tune with what’s happening. You must have self-awareness, body awareness, to get it done. Fortunately. Now you are no longer scattered and obsessing. You’re working and figuring things out. Using the mind the right way.
Friends Don’t Let Friends Do the Technique the Wrong Way
There’s definitely much camaraderie at the Dojo. It’s a family. Sensei is Dad and he’s taking care of you, teaching you what you need to know. Your brothers and sisters are pointing out how you can improve, you work with each other.
Human beings need to be connected as much as they need food, water and shelter. Life is all about relationship. It’s just as much a stress relief to have the support of friends who are also like family. You are not alone.
The Take Away
It is important to remember that self-defense skills are important, physical fitness is important, but even more important than those two things is your mental well-being. It’s no secret, as I said at the beginning, that the world is a rough place. It’s full of conflict and contention. Ironically, the place you learn to fight is the place where you learn to live in that world.