WARRIOR WISDOM: The Internal Martial Arts

pic cindyI was walking along the beach at sunrise one day many years ago to meet a man. Not just any man. A man who seemed like magic to me. He glowed when he moved. Literally glowed! He was an internal martial artist and I was about to start learning this ancient, mystical art that I had never heard of until the evening before. My nephew had been taking Tae Kwon Do and the Master there held a workshop to introduce BaguaZhang and the internal energy arts. It wasn’t the fact that this man with an open palm and mere light touch, pushed the Tae Kwon Do Master twenty feet back that intrigued me; it was that he glowed with energy from the inside out and I could see it.

That sunrise session started me on a decades long journey deep into the internal energy arts that includes Qi Gong and Meditation as a whole life practice. I had never before wanted to be a martial artist, that didn’t interest me; it was the development of internal energy and the magic that held for me. To get that, I had to learn the martial applications and a woman warrior was born.

Warriors fight, but great warriors know they don’t have to fight. Perhaps more importantly great warriors know they don’t have to avoid fighting out of fear, they can choose a peaceful path confident in their abilities, and that takes inner knowledge. The choice is based in confidence, rather than fear driving to a single place of avoidance. That wisdom can apply to many aspects of life. Recently Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, said in a speech at the United Nations, “Fear has never created a single job, or fed a single family…” Fear drives us to avoid facing unpleasant truths, difficult decisions and ultimately discovering genuine solutions to our problems. Fear uses avoidance, love employs engagement. Even if engagement means conflict, it is connecting us to each other. Avoidance becomes an empty experience fueling anxiety and allowing fear to hold us back, where little to no evolution becomes possible.

Harv T. Eker says, “a warrior is one who conquers himself.” I prefer to say, a warrior is one who fully understands him/herself. It is in this deep understanding of the self that the world unfolds before you in a bright, clear and simple way. Bruce Lee said, “To me, the extraordinary aspect of martial arts lies in its simplicity. The easy way is also the right way…” Bruce Lee is probably the best known martial artist in the world. He understood after years of training and teaching that the simplest way is the best way; Ockham’s Razer; the simpler the explanation, the more preferable.

What can all of this wisdom teach us if we aren’t martial artists and have no interest in becoming one. There are abilities inside of us that most of us haven’t a clue even exist. That a journey of discovery into the self that can include Qi Gong and meditation can ignite parts of our brains and activate some of our ability to self-heal. That a deeper, richer experience of the world is available to us through a spiritual connection with the self and with others. Intention (YI) begins in the mind, sparks the soul, and leads the spirit (SHEN) into action. Any activity that focuses our attention and holds it, has positive benefits for our minds, our development and our health. Any activity that we bring mindfulness to, engages all of our being in the present moment. With focus our minds grow stronger, we learn better, become more effective and efficient and we feel better about ourselves.