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Yiheyuan Martial Arts

Real Tai Chi in Leeds, UK

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Training the Mind

In any martial art, there comes a time when you realise that training the body is not enough.  While, from the outset, physical training requires mental qualities such as discipline, humility and patience; the highest levels of training also require an understanding of how the mind works and how to master it.  What use are strong muscles and superior fighting techniques to a man who is paralysed with fear or has never learned to control his own temper?
In addition to the physical training, our students learn to recognise the importance of the mental aspects of martial arts. In a fight, whether on the street or in a competition, physicals skills are useless if one is overwhelmed by fear or enraged to the point where judgement is impaired and energy is wasted through unnecessary tension.
Mastery of any martial art therefore requires mastery of one’s own mind above all else. Our students learn to recognise emotional arousal and its uses as a “fight or flight” survival response.  They also learn to develop strategies to manage their feelings and remain focussed in a crisis situation. The ability to keep one’s cool, take a wider view, see what needs to be done and have the courage to act upon it, is probably more valuable in terms of increasing one’s chances of survival than any amount of physical training.
Beyond this, the ability to step back into the “observing self” ultimately leads to the recognition that there is no separation between self and opponent. This is the highest goal of all true martial arts since it is the illusion of separateness which gives rise to conflict in the first place. The sense of connection and oneness makes it as ridiculous to wish to hurt someone intentionally as it would be for your left hand to pick a fight with your right hand, which is why there are so many legends of great masters meeting on a battlefield, bowing to each other and walking away without engaging in combat.
To learn more about the mind and how to master it, you can read about the APET Model from a martial arts point of view on this website, or go to our companion website, thegworldcommunity where you will find masses of information about how the mind works and also an in-depth yet down-to-earth guide on meditation.

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