Although I was a young kid when the Bruce Lee phenomena swept the United States, I never did get caught up in the Karate and other Martial Arts classes that were so popular at the time. I remember elementary school where kids were awestruck with how many and what color of belts that someone might have earned. Born from that era is the multi billion dollar industry that is Mixed Martial Arts today. Being surrounded by a bunch of fledgling ninja wannabe’s growing up, I could not help but get introduced into the concept. The one thing I remember the most was this, what the kids my age thought they were signing up for and what they actually experienced were completely different things. They thought they were going to become awesome fighters, and use cool weapons but in reality they became really good at choregraphed dance moves. At least that is what the ones that quit called it.
Effectively, the path to becoming a black belt is the ability memorize the perfect execution of a specific set of movements. This is not the only form of training, but in some martial arts such as Karate, it is primary. Of course there are different Katas with a wide variety of adoptions, modifications, and purposes. However, the reason I bring this up is because of how effective this is as not only a training tool, but an important way to find balance and stability in life.
Now, do not get me wrong. I am not suggesting that you find a dojo this morning and go sign up. However, that might not be a bad idea! I am suggesting that having a routine, choreographed, and something that you can fall into when you first wake up has some incredible therapeutic benefits. I have heard that people that memorize a routine such as a kata, can fall into that and almost become trance like. This might actually be the most pure form of mediation. Mind and body active, alert and present as you remove all distraction and stay with the form that you have learned.
I do not think this has to be a Martial Arts routine, it could probably be just about anything. Well, maybe not quite. Wake up, roll out of bed, grab pack of donuts, 40 oz can of beer, find couch, repeat. That is not the routine I am talking about! I am talking about something that requires physical exertion, coordination and needs focused attention to be successful. Most people would not be capable of creating one of these on their own. In my case, I found a routine from a popular calisthenics expert and have followed that for 6 weeks straight. The physical benefits have been great, but I think the mental ones have been pretty good as well.