Through the years, many martial arts schools have lessened the emphasis on meditation in their classes, or have removed it completely. In other dojos, martial artists actually say that meditation is the most important part of the art.
The question I’m asking here is: What good is meditation in class, and is there any real benefit to it, or are kids just wasting their time sitting there?
History lesson time:
The ancient origins of Karate are somewhat disputed, but one thing we do know for sure is that about 1400 years ago, while teaching at the Shaolin Temple in China, a monk named Daruma Daishi used techniques similar to what later became known as a style called Shaolin Boxing.
Of course monks are famous for their meditation and so it would seem that there is a very close relationship between meditating and doing martial arts.
Perspectives of Different Faiths
Some families of different faiths point to this and say that meditation is a threat to their beliefs because it opens their minds to other spirits.
Because of this, some dojos still give focus to moments of silence, but don’t call it “meditation” in order to respect the beliefs of each student (such is the case in our karate school). As a Christian myself, I can understand how people of certain faiths might be initially worrisome at the thought of an eastern based art involving meditation, but I think there is a good balance. I don’t believe that practicing silence or visualization is going to endanger my kids’ souls. 🙂
Benefits of Being Still
Through the practice of being still, both children and adults can focus on their breathing and improve coordination and focus. It’s also an opportune time to visualize proper form or the imagined success of an especially difficult technique.
I think that kids especially need times of silence, because they are going all day long. It’s easy to think that your kids are sitting there doing nothing, but I would invite you to think of your kids benefiting even in those moments. Some times the real training is in between the activities that we think are the training.
Making the time to sit and breathe – especially between workouts or strenuous drills can really make a difference in a student’s stress levels. One of my favorite sayings on the topic below sums it up:
You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour. – Zen proverb
Do you take the time to meditate or focus on your breathing?
Let me know what techniques and tricks you practice in the comments below!