How To Unify Body, Mind and Spirit
In the philosophy of all Martial Arts ‘body, mind and spirit’ have to be and work united in order to be successful in any combat situation. In my previous posts you can easily figure out I claim that the same is valid in exceptional leadership.
Here I’d like to go deeper into the subject by using the knowledge that has been steadily compiling. In the post Wing Chun basics 4Leadership I explained this topic through Wing Chun perception of ‘central line, economy of movement and simultaneous attack and defense’. The first can be used as a reference for body as on the ‘central line’ reside most of the vital points of a human. The mind is the most energy lavishing organ in our body. Therefore, a martial art teaches to store “the muscle knowledge” of all your hits, kicks etc. in your ‘muscle memory’ (will be discussed further below) allowing us to be faster and more explosive than we are within the conscious (mind) way of moving our extremities. In the fight there’s simply no enough time to deliver hits and protect oneself. Therefore ‘a simultaneous attack and defense’ is called for. It is “a spiritual way” to be confident that your whole body and not just your hands will protect you. But, at the same time a person has to have high spirit to combat with the opponent.
Looking at those two different options and issues through the same lens give us the opportunity to appreciate the similarities in them. So I tend to see most of the Asian Martial Arts as trains heading for the same destination – the unification of body, mind and spirit - but on different tracks.
Tai Chi’s (Taiji) main aspect is the yielding: when attacked Tai Chi “turns into water” and yield. The main emphasis of Tai Chi is working internally utilizing the Qi (see: Qi–energy–leadership). The Great Masters of Karate, Judo, Kendo, Aikido, Jiu-Jitsu, Sistema etc. all taught and tried to inculcate different principles to unify the three.
In martial arts it is also a well-known fact that the ‘competition games’ when to win means everything, detracts from the inherent aim of most of these ancient arts. Why? Because, in the competition the focus is on body speed and/or power and not on the union of the three. Miyamoto Musashi posed the same question: ‘When you have beaten all the present Champions of the Martial Art, what then? How long before someone younger, faster, stronger beats you because you are getting older and slower?’
Why, then, the union of the three: body, mind and spirit is so important?
To really learn any movement we need lots of repetitions. Think how difficult (and painful) learning to ride a bicycle was! We learned through repetitions that are based on our spirit (goal) to achieve the mastery of riding. We had to use our mind to memorize those first attempts when finally we succeed to staying on the bicycle. Then, slowly, those ‘memories’ are transferred to our unconscious mind when we need not ‘think’ anymore what we have to do. And this is called ‘a muscular memory’! We develop it first by visualizing in our brains and start practicing. Then, the repetitions come in. We repeat so many times until our brain moves the repeated sequence into the limbic brain where from it is later fired out ‘without’ our conscious mind. All the animals have it and for a lot of our motions we do, too (like walking, riding bike).
Only then the mastery can come.
Bruce Lee explained the same in the movie ‘Enter the Dragon’: ‘I do not hit him, it is my body that does it!’ Therefore, a great martial artist is unifying the three: body, mind and spirit to achieve superiority in any situation and at any age.
Could this be transferred to leadership?