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The Role of Meditation in Martial Arts

Meditation plays an important part in martial arts across the entire world. It’s often overlooked as the thrill of combat always seems more important, but for who take the time to incorporate some form of stillness and introspection into their path of learning claim it makes their training complete.

Martial arts, including Jujitsu, Aikido, Karate and more, use meditation for a few reasons…


Questioning, without judgement, one’s motivation for training… ego, fitness, self-improvement, violence, kudos, escapism.

It’s not easy to be honest with yourself on why you train in your martial art, and it’s very likely the purpose that first drove you the start is very different from what continues to push you on. Meditation is a place where you can question your motives, your approach and the responsibilities you feel that accompany your growing power.

Mentally reviewing techniques

Meditation provides another way to study kata and forms, turning things around in your mind and replaying moves with precise changes. Meditation also allows you to isolate footwork, gravity, balance, flow, state of mind, power, timing, and everything else that make a kata truly insightful.

Clearing demons & self control

Meditation is also used for clearing ones head of thoughts and feelings that have no place in the dojo, or that could be a weakness in combat – such as rash anger or jealousy. We all have these elements, and ignoring or repressing them creates a ticking time bomb waiting to blow.

So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.

If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.

If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.

– Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Psyching up

Boxers, athletes and rock stars… All experts focus themselves before a big challenge. Meditation is there to clear one’s head, center one’s self and focus one’s energy. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth slowly, whilst concentrating on immovable thoughts of empowerment is one way to do this.


The effectiveness is difficult to prove, and perhaps it’s just delusion, but meditation has been used for thousands of years to heal faster; especially in Chinese disciplines such as Qigong.

Becoming still

Meditation can be described in many ways, but one of the simplest is to begin by imagining one’s thoughts as a pendulum swinging back and forth, never settling in one place for very long.

The constant noise of the world, our lives and our minds make it impossible to experience stillness and tranquillity – meditation aims to slow this chaotic oscillation of thought, sensation and feeling, and eventually bring it to a soft standstill. When your thoughts are still, you can begin to take control rather than be lead.

4 Responses

  1. Bart Scovill

    Excellent article. Ignoring the Yin side of the martial arts only leads to unhealthy training and a short martial arts career.

  2. Greg Crozier

    I think meditation and mental imagery go hand in hand. Where meditation is used to clear the mind (some would say to open it to new learning), mental imagery is used to focus the mind on something very specific and the results are clearly proven, once the person doing it has some skill with it. Last I heard (this goes back a few years), practicing ‘in your head’ with as much concentration as you use in real life gives you nearly the same benefit as physical practice. Something to think about between classes, but I would say there is a clear benefit to meditation. Most who have tried it for a while realize it too.

  3. Lucy

    I find that meditation is done best with exercise and movement, to focus. I think they go hand in hand too, each benefits the other. A martial art always ends up training the mind…

    1. admin

      Great insights, thanks. I meditate during Kata, but only when the movements are confidently learned.

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