philosophy

Hearing my coach shout from the side of the mat, "Two hands on! Get two hands on!" during my first Judo tournament, made me suddenly realize what he meant. Aside from the obvious plea of getting my mitts onto the Judo gi of my opponent, he was telling me: Be first. Suddenly, the realization that this was what he had been trying to drill into my brain during all those months of practice came flooding forth. Ah, now I get it. I wanted to turn around and let him know that I understood what he meant, but my opponent's industrious attempts at being first, himself, made me think the better of it.

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By examining the history of various peoples around the world, we often stumble upon the concept of energy which resides in the body and is explained in a similar way and is called by similar names. Examples include the breath of life, life or vital energy or, oftentimes, inner energy. According to numerous legends and writings, the idea refers to a specific energy which is stored inside us, as well as in other living creatures, i.e. animals and plants, and is considered to be of vital importance. This is the reason why it is often called vital or life energy (bioenergy, bios = life + energy).
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Time for a pop quiz in philosophy!

Have you ever questioned why--in systems that teach us wounding, arresting, and potentially even killing techniques--we often place a focus on philosophical ideas such as understanding the self and exorcising our ego?

I mean, has navel gazing ever actually stopped an angry drunkard's fist from claiming your face as its new residence?

No.

But believe it or not...introspection and deep thought does help martial artists in many other ways, some of which actually can influence the fight.

Let's delve into why so many black belts are married to philosophical study and find out what mental switch we can make to begin truly progressing in our training!

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The Deep Thoughts of a Black Belt Hall of Famer

When Black Belt interviewed Jet Li about his hit movie The One, he revealed much about his personal philosophy. Although the film was released in 2001, Li's thoughts on the deeper facets of martial arts and life no doubt remain the same.

Situated atop a 40-foot-high, rickety catwalk, Jet Li looks like a puppet on a string as he prepares for one of Corey Yuen's action-directed stunts. Wires protrude from Li's body in four directions, and as Yuen bellows, "Action," a menagerie of Chinese stunt guys yank on them by leaping off 10-foot ladders or running back and forth in a controlled-chaos tug-of-war. Li and his opponent fly upward and then 60 feet backward in opposite directions. Then, as if being struck by invisible tennis rackets, the two fly back toward each other for their final clash of pugilistic mayhem. Who is Jet Li's opponent in this battle? None other than Jet Li.

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