There is an intensity to martial arts training that is taxing on the body, but also a challenge to the mind. You must be aware of what you are doing physically, understand complex material intellectually and also be aware of what you are feeling emotionally. I suppose this is why martial arts are often touted as a way to harmonize mind, body and spirit. You are forced to make these things work together as part of training.
So, let’s break it down.
You are challenging yourself to go past your physical limit, prove you’ve got spirit and guts, and you must be, simultaneously, aware of what you are doing physically, what the body does and can do. You must be spatially aware, aware of position and how to position yourself correctly. You must understand what angles work, what positions work and, mentally, how to time actions so that those positions and angles work. The training is intense and you are forced to be keenly aware of these things mentioned, often without a seconds notice.
You are taught material that is complex, forces the mind to work on it intellectually and logically, and, at the same time, perform it physically. You are simultaneously working mind and body to understand technique both mentally and physically. Yes, you can understand things physically, but you have to understand them mentally as well; simultaneously. The muscles and nerves learn techniques as you train them just as the mind has them rooted into neural-pathways.
Inwardly, things are happening during your training too. You have fears and insecurities that come to the surface. You have to put the body through rigors of training, you get hurt and you might even look foolish. But nothing is stopping you. Your interest is heightened and you naturally want to give your attention to the Art you are practicing. Awareness is heightened because you care. You will put the time and effort into it because you want to. You even get past your fear and insecurity to do so. This is a major statement about the power of intense attention.
To a great extent, the intensity of martial arts training takes away the blockages of thought that prevent harmony of mind and body and open up physical, mental and emotional awareness. Your interest is intensified, so also is your attention, so you act and understand in a way that brings together your physical and mental faculties. For this reason, martial arts training in a well-rounded way to increase awareness overall.