Friday, July 26, 2019

The Dojo Is My Universe

When you look out of your eyes at nature happening out there, you're looking at you. That's the real you. ⁠— Alan Watts

In a recently published research paper titled Sense of Coherence and Connectedness to Nature as Predictors of Motivation for Practicing Karate, 127 karate practitioners were examined to determine the connection between nature and motivations for training. The gist of the paper is that mental health and a sense of well-being is associated with karate training done in a natural setting. It's not surprising that people enjoy practicing outdoors on a nice day. Male and female trainees were observed and findings showed that feeling emotionally connected to the natural world was important for the physical fitness objective for both sexes. The study was undertaken, in part, due to a "pandemic of physical inactivity" and also because...

Martial arts belong to a particular group of sport disciplines which are very rarely practiced outdoors, especially when it comes to tournaments and competitions. Therefore, carrying out at least some parts of the training process in natural open spaces is justified, which would make it possible to use natural environmental elements as part of the training. The idea of harmonizing the training of martial arts with nature is also hidden in the well-known Japanese calligraphy of old warriors under the name “Sekai-dojo”―My “dojo“ (my gym), is my universe. All budo (martial art) students eventually realize that their behavior has changed and has been greatly influenced by the martial art discipline they practice. They become more conscious, braver, more careful, more attentive, and more respectful of others. They are able to better acquire natural principles in their philosophical context. They are able to exercise greater willpower, frankness, and generosity. This is followed by the next step: Introducing these virtues into ordinary life outside the dojo (gym). After this happens, the whole world becomes a large, wide dojo. Research shows that this attitude is particularly visible in athletes who engage in traditional forms of karate, which place an emphasis on values. Outdoor physical activity also provides more opportunities to achieve states of mental relaxation, which is so important in fighting sports that some even consider it fundamental.

The study goes on to show the relationship between Eastern philosophy and traditional martial arts. The connection to nature, however, was highly correlated to physical fitness goals associated with karate training. The paper also delves into the different goals of men and women for training in karate.

It's an interesting work that examines the karate way, it's unison with the natural environment, and ultimately, the path to overcoming one’s weaknesses.

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