5 Ways to Bring Mindfulness into our Martial Arts Practice

By Chloe Harris

Regardless of your circumstances and situation practicing mindfulness can help your everyday way of life.

Mindfulness is intensely paying attention and establishing a connection to the present moment. You’re feeling the moment, without judgement or any interpretation. Learning from the past and aware of the future but not controlled by it. This type of thinking and meditation allows you to control your attention, actions, and attitude—which is essential, not only for martial artists but also for everyone.

“Mindfulness is incredibly helpful in improving quality of life. However, it’s not easy to achieve because our minds are filled with thoughts and biases that distract from the present moment. It has become tough to focus in an age filled with distractions completely. But with practice, it can be done.”, explains David Taylor, a holistic health coach at Monkeyfoodz.

Here are five ways to bring mindfulness into your life as a martial artist:

1. Warm up your mind

Pay close attention to each part of your body when warming up. Observe how your muscles stretch. Let go of negative thoughts and focus on the exercise itself, enjoying each movement.  Aches and pains are like medals of honour earned and lost in the stretch.

It’s normal to feel tense if you haven’t worked out for a long time or feel sore after consecutive days at the dojo. Warming up is essential to condition your body. But if you do it with mindfulness, your mind will also be prepared, and the results will be better.

2. Observe your breathing

Focus on the air that comes in and out of your body. Feel the sensations in your nose and as the air travels down your chest, like a continuous stream of renewing energy flowing into your body.  Also, observe the movement of your lungs and belly. Taking several pauses to indulge your senses elongating the moment allowing oxygen to enrich your blood and detoxify your body and mind.

It would help if you also observe your breathing when moving, especially how you force the air out of your lungs during intense movements.

3. Move with your mind

When our minds are focused on our movement, we tend to make every kick, every punch, and every jump with accuracy and precision.  We are adaptable to change and aware of our surroundings.

When performing any martial arts movement, follow the sensations of your muscles. Focus on how your joints and muscles move as your change chance to execute the next move.

4. Be cautious of your thoughts

We live in an age that is flooded with information. All of these ideas and attachments clouds our minds and increase our propensity to making wrong decisions. Moreover, a lot of the information around us is designed to make us feel insufficient. This is why many people have thoughts like “I’m can never get the right stance.” or “I am not fit enough for this martial art”.

It’s crucial to watch our thoughts because these are translated into movements. To prevent any negative thinking, start by being aware of your state of mind. Do you feel insecure because you’re not tall or lean enough? Do you think you won’t succeed in this sport because you didn’t succeed with your other endeavours? Then, reflect how you can overcome each negative idea one by one.  Let them go by like the clouds in the sky.  Somethings are out of your control.  The only thing you have in control is how you feel about it. 

5. Participate fully

Once we’ve let go of distractions, we can be present and give our best to anything we do.

If you pay attention to each moment, you’ll be able to enjoy everything that it offers. In martial arts and in life, it provides the gift of time, strength, camaraderie, discipline, etc. Being present allows you to channel your energy to every moment and enjoy training much more. Over time, it will improve your form.

Mindfulness requires practice. And where is better to learn self-control and self-awareness but in a non-competitive training environment?

Aikido Odyssey fosters friendship and community spirit through peaceful resolution. This means that our techniques can be performed by men and women of all ages and sizes. Trying something or seeing something anew is the first step to understanding inner peace.