Zen in the Martial Arts
What is Zen? To explain Zen means to lose the meaning of Zen. Most people will look at Zen as a form of Buddhism, which is true, but Zen is so much more that this. The practice of martial arts and Zen go hand in hand. Here is a quote from the article “Zen is the Only Living Truth”
“Zen is not effort. Effort is tension, effort is work, effort is to achieve something. Zen is not something to achieve. You are already that. Just relax, relax so deeply that you become a revelation to yourself.” Osho
Zen is a state of mind where duality has been transcended. In martial arts there are many dualities, in fact there are nothing but dualities. Why? Because our world is a world of opposites. Zen means to go beyond these opposites. For the beginner this is a difficult task. In the first few months of martial art training there are many physical movements that must be learned. We will teach you to block, punch, and kick your opponent is a preset pattern. There is an attack, and a defense. There is a hit and a block.
Some martial arts organizations will increase the duality with competition. In competition there is always a winner and loser. Most people view winning and losing as a fact of life. This only a state of mind, not a reality.
Zen means to go beyond all duality. However to transcend duality you must first experience it. All things can be transcended through meditation. If fact, meditation and martial arts go hand in hand. At one time meditation was taught in every martial art dojo. But today, with the vast diversification of beliefs in our population meditation and the art have parted company. Development of the mind has been abandoned for political correctness.
For the beginner Zen is experienced in brief glimpses. It can come at a belt testing when after performing your Kata you can’t recall doing it. You are in the ZONE. Over time the brain can go on autopilot and perform Kata, but for the beginner this is rare. The experience is most likely Zen related.
If you look for Zen you will never find it. Zen is effortless. Zen and martial arts is about movement. There is never an attacker or opponent. There is no self, only movement. Like a beautiful dance with no music. Expert for the music playing inside the student of the arts.
Can a beginner discover Zen? The answer lies with the beginner. Zen is there for everyone, waiting to be found.