Martial Arts Make People Smarter and More Aware

Ancient Disciplines to Create a New and Improved You

I was reading the Patanjali the other night, and I came across an interesting concept: Awareness.

I am a big fan of Awareness. Aware people make for good and honest friends. Unaware people don’t. Aware people get the job done; unaware people don’t. Pretty simple, eh?

If you want something done, your refrigerator fixed, your car financed, your lawn cut properly, or whatever, these things happen to the degree that you are Aware enough to do them, or to hire an Aware person to do them.

instruction graph

Understanding the geometry behind martial arts

Here’s the interesting thing: there are virtually no schools of thought, no institutions, no methods for increasing Awareness in the western world.

We are sent to school, and we learn tricks, but learning tricks has little to do with Awareness, except in a superficial way.

We pray, but even that is subject to a mystical moment of enlightenment that might, but might not, happen.

Rarely, and I mean almost never, is there a school for increasing Awareness.

The one thing that would actually decrease ignorance and intolerance, we don’t have it, or a method for getting it.

Now, I know there are going to be those who claim that they have Awareness, who are going to be upset with some of the things I am saying here, but that is only because they don’t understand what Awareness actually is.

Awareness is not how much memory you have, and it is not even how fast you solve a problem (though this last can be right on the edge of Awareness, and can even be used to measure Awareness…after a fashion).

Awareness is how much you see. And, it is not how much you see with your perceptions, but, rather, how much you see without your perceptions. Perceptions, interestingly enough, can get in the way of Awareness.

One of my favorite tricks, when teaching martial arts, is to write something on my hand. A word, a phrase, or something. Then I would open my hand in class and close it, and ask the student what was written on it. The thing is, I would do this fast so they didn’t stand a chance of reading my hand.

Then I would open and close the hand slightly slower, and slightly slower, and eventually the student would read, ‘Bullwinkle is a dope,’ or some other such inanity.

“Huh?” They would grunt, not understanding the lesson.

So if you can’t see a simple bit of writing, how can you see this? And I would place my fist upon their nose.

Now, having proved that my student was unaware, and in a relatively non-threatening way, their minds would be open long enough for me to do a drill which would increase their Awareness.

Not make them a better fighter, although that happened, but enabled them to actually see what was written in the world. What was the balance of a stance, what was the ‘tell’ of the shoulders, what was the thought behind their eyes. To look at the world hard enough so that they could actually see it.

I think it was this that fascinated me about the martial arts: not the institutionalized memorization of tricks, but rather the actual engagement and improvement of Awareness.

Methods for increasing Awareness through the Martial Arts at

Just pure Awareness at

zen martial arts


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s