Zen and the Martial Artist

zazenConquerYou’ve probably read accounts of Zen monks possessing remarkable levels of concentration, discipline and focus.

And you probably know that the samurai, the world’s most feared and respected fighters, also practiced Zen.

And, of course, it would be hard to find a martial artist who isn’t at least a bit intrigued by the potential benefits of Zen meditation.

But as martial artists, practical as we are, we do have to ask ourselves  “Are the benefits of Zen meditation real and how will they benefit me in my art?”

First, historically, because the samurai consistently practiced Zen, we must acknowledge that it was, at the very least, very, very relevant to them (a matter keeping their sanity and a matter of life and death?). But the ‘Last Samurai’ was the late 1800s, and we should now want to know “Is Zen training still relevant today?” And to answer that for yourself, check out this video …

Relevant to the samurai, relevant to the GI, and what about the martial arts student?

I’ve studied both Zen and the martial arts for over 25 years. Here’s how Zen training can help you.

It’s a timeless, universal challenge …
What’s the biggest impediment to a martial artist? The answer of course … thinking. When you are thinking (planning, scheming), you are slow and late and clumsy.

And what’s the second biggest impediment to a martial artist? This answer … ‘looking’. When you’re ‘looking’ at someone’s hands you can’t ‘see’ his feet. When you’re ‘looking’ at someone’s eyes you can’t ‘see’ his hands or his feet.

And so what’s the solution? You already know … don’t think and don’t ‘look’. Simple in concept, but near impossible to accomplish on your own and yet at the heart of Zen training!

What this is all about …

Here at AZC, we are always looking for collaborations with the martial arts community – exploring how Zen can benefit an established martial arts curriculum.

One such collaboration is a series of 13 week Zen and Aikido classes that we hold in cooperation with Both Hands Clapping Aikido. (The next session starts the week of August 11th. You can follow the link above for more info.)unfettered_mind


And so, in order to get a better feel for what you, the martial artist, may be looking for in other collaborations and workshops, we’re looking for your help. Below is a short survey that will help us put together these workshops. Would you help us out, take 5 minutes and complete this survey? And as a little incentive, for every 50 surveys we get, we will draw a name to receive the book “The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Mater to a Master Swordsman.”


The Survey

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Thank you