Friday, July 29, 2011


There is an old Samurai maxim, 'A person who has attained mastery of an art reveals it in their every action.' In other words, 'as within, so without.' So it is with martial arts. No surprise, then, to hear about something called 'mindfulness martial arts therapy.' In many ways, the so-called 'therapy' is in the actual doing of the particular martial art being practised.

Here’s an article regarding an integrated therapy that combines mindfulness and martial arts.

The therapy is called ‘mindfulness martial arts’ (MMA).

Child and family therapist Paul Badali designed MMA therapy for kids with learning disabilities in 2002.

What makes MMA potentially attractive to young people is the way MMA removes some of the supposed ‘mystique’ surrounding mindfulness (and meditation) by its inclusion in a socially-valued and ever-so-physical activity like martial arts.

Of course, Zen and associated matters ‘spiritual’ have always been an integral part of martial arts, which has always had, as one of its ‘aims’, the development of new and more effective ways of seeing, thinking and acting ... so it comes as no surprise to hear of this therapeutic combination.

I have always loved these words from the great Zhuangzi (Chuang-Tzu):  'The mind of a perfect person is like a mirror. It grasps nothing. It expects nothing. It reflects but does not hold. Therefore, the perfect person can act without effort.' There is no better way to live than that. That is the essence of mindfulness in a nutshell. It is also what one can hope to expect from a combination of mindfulness and the martial arts ... or even just from the practice of martial arts if approached from a spiritual or psychological perspective. It's all about respect, both for oneself and for the other person ... indeed for all persons. It's also all about the power of wakeful non-resistance and effortless effort.

‘It’s exercise, meditation, present moment awareness in being healthy, and being aware of healthy practices,’ says Badali who runs the MMA at Integra Children’s Mental Health Centre in Toronto, Canada.

Early studies show that MMA for kids with learning disabilities is beneficial.

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