Last week marked three years since I tested for my black belt. It’s amazing how the years can just fly by! Since my black belt test, I’ve incorporated the physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions to my training. I believe that to achieve balance as a practitioner, one should work on all three. This change has improved my martial arts abilities. It has also enabled me to reach a place of calmness in general. In this article, I share three ways of how I fuse martial arts training into my daily life to show how you can too.
1. Give yourself ‘me time’
This is something especially for the practitioners who are constantly on their feet and putting others first every day. A number of martial artists have spoken to me in the past about not having time for things that they really want to do. This is not only related to training, but also includes not pursuing their other hobbies or interests.
The advice that I’ve given – and something I live by – is to allocate a portion of your day as ‘me time’. During that segment of your day, do whatever you want – for YOU. Close everything else off. Perhaps go in a separate room or location if it would help you focus. How much time you allocate for ‘me time’ is entirely down to you. However, from my experience, I find that a minimum amount of time should be an hour – because it may take a while to fully get into your zone. If it improves your commitment to ‘me time’, section off a period of time in your diary or calendar. Treat it as something that can’t be moved about, and you’ll find that in most cases, you’re able to move things around it.
How I use it:
During this time, I focus purely on mindset and spiritual development. I often reflect on my experiences and actions that day. I also think about the bigger picture of how I’ve been progressing and what I could try and do differently. Sometimes I do some reading or online research that would enhance my understanding or trigger new thoughts to explore.
My self-development goals are things that align with me as a person. Through my martial arts training, I look to incorporate different philosophies and ideas into my own journey for daily growth. On the flip side, I also seek to explore and merge my individuality into my training.
2. Get more efficient with no extra time
Sometimes we’re just too busy to find time to train. In that case, look for opportunities when you might be occupied with something but perhaps are not really being that productive. If we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t actually use all the time in our day effectively. Sometimes it’s unexpected – but it’s always with a choice. Think about the times when you’re waiting for someone to turn up, a meeting to start, or for a meal to cook. What do you do? If you feel that you just turn to browse social media, then this is a great opportunity to get in some training! Remember: when I say training, I don’t just mean physically – I mean any dimension that you want to work on, given the environment.
In terms of physical training, a great way to increase your fitness is also through using this same concept. For example: take the stairs instead of the lift; walk to cycle instead of drive; or do a core workout during commercials on the TV. Sure, it will probably take you a little more time, but the health benefits will be worth it.
Having short training bursts are perfect to reflect on things or physically work on when your next ‘me time’ arrives. I find these bursts great for the subconscious mind to keep working on things in the background, even when you consciously move onto something else. All training is good training.
How I use it:
Waiting for a meal or a gym class to start are commonly times where I do short bursts of physical training. When I say short bursts, it’s usually anywhere between 5-15 minutes. On days with good weather, I’d walk to the gym.
When it comes to socialising, if I’m waiting for others to arrive, I often think about the mental and spiritual dimensions. I do this through picking out something I’ve observed in the environment and framing it to a concept to explore further. Sometimes I’d also share my thoughts with others and have some interesting conversations!
This leads to the final point…
3. Observe your environment
Soo Bahk Do, along with many other martial arts, emphasises ‘oneness with nature’. I believe that to become more attuned to nature, we need to be present in our environment and observe it. We should do this by understanding our part within it, and also by taking a look in from the outside. Our worldview is unique to us, but part of it is shared with other practitioners through the Art that connects us. To help us understand better the mindset and spiritual dimensions to training and to incorporate these in our lives, we need to apply real life observations to the philosophy and then explore these further. It’s also very satisfying to just be present in the moment. We may notice things we otherwise overlook in our busy lives.
How I use it:
On my commutes and outings, I’d often look around and watch people. I think about how they move and how they interact with other people and things. Perhaps one reason people’s behaviours intrigue me a lot is due to my interest in animation. As a hobbyist, an eye for detail is needed to transform observations into works of art. For martial arts training and animation, I look for daily opportunities to understand people and their experiences, so that I can reflect how I could better serve others as a practitioner and as a person. I find observations helpful for all dimensions of training, but especially the spiritual side.