Martial Arts Meditation Techniques


In "Meditation and the Martial Arts," Michael L. Raposa notes that the martial arts simply utilize common forms of meditation and implement those techniques as a component of training. The Chinese thought of martial arts as a pathway to spiritual enlightenment or the Tao. In "Mind Over Matter: Higher Martial Arts," Tai Chi master Shi Ming noted that the process of refining one's consciousness is the absolute basis of higher training in martial arts. By consciousness, Shi Ming did not mean any ordinary ideal, but "to a condition in which body and mind are fused, spirit and matter are united."

Chi Breathing Meditation

All martial arts contain practices that requires deep, abdominal breathing with an exhalation that is longer than the inhalation.This breathing is performed to circulate chi or energy throughout the body. Professor James Noel at The San Francisco Theological seminary teaches that the chi is meant to flow "in a circular fashion along the microscopic orbit---from the top of the head down to the cocyx, or soles of the feet, and back to the head." The excess energy or chi is believed to be stored below the navel. The Chi breathing meditation focuses upon the breath for the purpose of circulating and becoming aware of the levels of chi present within the body.

Self control and discipline meditation

Martial arts also uses meditation to clear the mind of negative thoughts that thwart martial practice or may be considered a weakness in combat. By observing the mind, the practitioner becomes more aware of hidden attributes such as anger and envy. This mind observation technique is used to cultivate sharp focus as well. Sitting still and focusing the mind is meant to create a focused, disciplined practitioner. Breathing deeply and deliberately while standing or sitting and concentrating on immovable thoughts of empowerment is one way practitioners teach this technique.

No Mind

"No-mind" is the mental state attributed to Japanese Zen Buddhism. Professor Noel explains that in this state a practitioner perceives no opponent. It is believed that he/she becomes the opponent and knows what moves will be made in battle before any move has been made. Also referred to as Bunkai, the no mind meditation is the essence of all Zen meditation techniques which involve emptying the mind of thought. This is also used in martial arts to develop, patience and discipline.