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  1. nils is offline

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    Posted On:
    3/24/2012 3:36am


     Style: FormerShotokan,Kickboxing

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by W. Rabbit View Post
    A person experiencing Ch'an scores no points, forgets the game, and wins their freedom.
    Yeah, that may be the whole point. Confusingly, these days everything that has even remotely to do with meditation or awareness is called Zen. In my hometown there´s even a "samurai-zen-school for managers" (McAshram).

    I´m by no means a Zen-scholar (oxymoron?) - although I do like to meditate - but it seems to me that Zen implies that it can not be used as a means to an end.

    Anyway, as we all know, there is only one truth in Zen:


    Still don´t know what to think of this guy, but that speech is hillarious.



    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Miyagi View Post
    But why the focus? Because a lot of the Abrahamic traditions don't openly deal with meditative thought processes, and altered states outside of quite full on aspects (visions and all that jazz).
    You may want to look at the islamic sufi-tradition or the many hermetical groups in mystic christianity - if historical religion is part of your research.

    If you guys are keen, I'd be happy to post the main work.
    Please do so.
    Last edited by nils; 3/24/2012 3:49am at .
  2. Vince Tortelli is offline

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    Posted On:
    3/24/2012 10:16am

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by W. Rabbit View Post
    That's odd considering it's often done in groups. Doesn't quite fit the sociopath mold.
    If everyone in the group has freed themselves from emotional attachment and, indeed, conscious thought, are they still a group or just a bunch of people who happen to be in physical proximity to each other? As I already said, everything I know about Zen I picked up from 36 Chamber of Shaolin, A Fighter's Mind, and reading Battletech tie in fiction about the Draconis Combine.
    But the whole severing all one's attachments in pursuit of enlightment seems really, REALLY creepy to me. Love for family, loyalty to a nation, faith in God....I would consider all these attachments (to kin, country, and God, respectively) and the idea of consciously casting it all aside....

    To be honest it engenders the same raising of the hair on the back of my neck and urge to back into a corner with a weapon in hand, so as to secure my flanks when the massed charge comes, that I get when followers of old Friedrich start waxing philosophical about casting aside morality and following the will to power.

    Although I do not dismiss out of hand that I am engaging in prejudice that is as tragi-comical to the resident Buddhists as someone whose sole knowledge of Christianity was the old hymns "Power in the Blood", "Nothing But the Blood", and "There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood" screaming "OMG VAMPIRES!" would be to Christians.

    Nils:
    If I understand your premise, it's similar to some of the studies done that evidence boxers and wrestlers experience gains in strength and speed by boxing and wrestling, without weight lifting, running, etc, but from a mental/metaphysical angle? Please do post, sounds like an interesting read.
  3. W. Rabbit is offline
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    Posted On:
    3/24/2012 1:27pm

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    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Vince Tortelli View Post
    If everyone in the group has freed themselves from emotional attachment and, indeed, conscious thought, are they still a group or just a bunch of people who happen to be in physical proximity to each other?
    Mu.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vince Tortelli View Post
    As I already said, everything I know about Zen I picked up from 36 Chamber of Shaolin, A Fighter's Mind, and reading Battletech tie in fiction about the Draconis Combine.
    That may be the coolest sentence you've ever written, just so ya know. It's like a bag with all my favorite candies in it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vince Tortelli View Post
    But the whole severing all one's attachments in pursuit of enlightment seems really, REALLY creepy to me. Love for family, loyalty to a nation, faith in God....I would consider all these attachments (to kin, country, and God, respectively) and the idea of consciously casting it all aside....
    Severing attachments means different things to different types of Buddhist.

    We're falling away from Ch'an Buddhism (which is the root of Zen) and back to mainstream Buddhism (which may not have anything to do with Zen). Remember Ch'an/Zen Buddhists do not quite practice the same things as other forms of Buddhism (that are off topic for this thread, really), many forms of Buddhism involve asceticism or LITERALLY detachment from society, and later forms like Ch'an reject some of those tenets.

    The Shaolin Ch'an Buddhists, for instance, were certainly not ascetics. They fought for Chinese emperors to defend the people from criminals, they fought in the Boxer Rebellion to defend China, etc. They owned land (recorded in government records), and so on. They trained secular disciples. They cultivated gardens. They provided assistance to local populace on a range of issues, not the least of which was spiritual cultivation.
    Last edited by W. Rabbit; 3/24/2012 1:35pm at .
  4. Vince Tortelli is offline

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    Posted On:
    3/24/2012 6:38pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by W. Rabbit View Post
    Mu.
    Oh, I know this one! It was said in response to some wag asking a renowned Buddhist teacher the frivolous question "Can a dog have Buddha nature?"
    House Kurita for the win.

    If I may rabbit trail (attempt to be punny not intended) I much prefer the answer given to a similar question given in one of David Gemmell's "Druss The Legend" novels, which I will now paraphrase:

    "If men have souls, then even the most vile and wicked man, who spends his whole life torturing and maiming the innocent, must have one. I had a friend once who had a dog. His house caught fire, and the dog ran up the stairs, through the smoke and flame, to awaken my friend and his family. They all escaped. The downstairs door was open. The dog could have fled to the safety of the street. It did not. So if the dog was heroic and selfless without a soul, and men are vile and wicked with one, then what use is it?"

    To wander even farther from topic, if you're not reading David Gemmell, you should be. Run, don't walk, to the nearest bookstore, buy any of his books they have in stock, and demand they order the rest of them. And now, back to the discussion.

    Severing attachments means different things to different types of Buddhist.
    We're falling away from Ch'an Buddhism (which is the root of Zen) and back to mainstream Buddhism (which may not have anything to do with Zen). Remember Ch'an/Zen Buddhists do not quite practice the same things as other forms of Buddhism (that are off topic for this thread, really), many forms of Buddhism involve asceticism or LITERALLY detachment from society, and later forms like Ch'an reject some of those tenets.
    Oh blast. You're telling me I can't just shove all Buddhists into one neat little box marked "Buddhism" and be done with it, that they have just as much variation, alteration, and doctrinal squabbling as us Christians, with our Papists vs Protestants, Holy Communion vs Lord's Supper, and Calvinism vs Free Will clashes (The last of which led to me and my pastor throwing spoons at one another at the dinner table, with me yelling "I am excercising my free will to throw this spoon at you" and him returning fire while shouting "It was preordained from the beginning of time that I was going to throw THIS spoon at YOU!" I had no idea theological disputation could be fun.)

    The Shaolin Ch'an Buddhists, for instance, were certainly not ascetics. They fought for Chinese emperors to defend the people from criminals, they fought in the Boxer Rebellion to defend China, etc. They owned land (recorded in government records), and so on. They trained secular disciples. They cultivated gardens. They provided assistance to local populace on a range of issues, not the least of which was spiritual cultivation
    Now this I can wrap my head around, it's not too dissimilar from all that "Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me" and "Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself" that I try to practice (with varying degrees of success).

    Whereas some of the other stuff sounds like, well, the closest metaphor I can come up with is how so many Lovecraft (read as/standing in for Bob Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Brian Lumley, and many more) characters remove themselves from their family, friends, and indeed all other spheres of human interaction so that they may explore and analyze various forms of secret knowledge and mystic truths, and from then on it's pretty much a straight shot to foetid odors, squamous silhouettes, and the compulsive urge to continue transcribing the sensations one feels as the slimy batrachian limbs tear at your cravat and unimaginable ichors splash against your face, and finally horrors that no observer could witness without a retreat to the comforting sanctum of delirium drag you away from the typewriiiiiiiiii...........................
  5. Mr.Miyagi is offline
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    Posted On:
    3/28/2012 9:48pm


     Style: BJJ/Zumba

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Ok guys, was able to find my last paper with the bulk of the stuff I was talking about and have it below, I couldn't find where to use the 'hidey' tags to make it not as long, so I'm sorry! Hope you enjoy it, and look forward to some feedback.

    Martial Arts: Flow and Embodied Experience
    By Rowan "Mr.Miyagi" Lines

    The aim of the essay is to examine the lived experience of martial arts and combative sports; staying focused on the meaning, structure and essence of this phenomenon for martial artists. This essay will focus on the transcendental everyday that practitioners of martial arts can come into contact with, while acknowledging the differences between the amateur or hobbyist and professional martial artist. The essay will also address altered states of consciousness that can be entered by the martial artist and the idea of Csikszentmihalyi's flow state (1990), in the context of martial arts, and how this is an experiential lived religious state of being or consciousness, which martial arts embodies.

    Lived religion holds the religious or spiritual creativity of a culture or group within itself and approaches religious activity as a lived experience (Orsi 172). The techniques that one is taught and develops, during their study of martial arts, and the process of learning and sparring ('free-form' fighting with restrictions for safety) with other students, contains the essence of spiritual creativity. Orsi argues that religion is not something static or stationary; it is something that is in action, something that is involved (172). Lived religion is involved with relationships people build, and “between the ways the world is and the way people imagine or want it to be” (Orsi 172). Csikszentmihalyi puts forward that “every person, no matter how unfit he or she is, can rise a little higher, go a little faster, and grow to be a little stronger. The joy of surpassing the limits of the body is open to all” (1990: 97, italics added), and this can be done in martial arts. While religion can help people surpass mental limits—fear, lack of confidence, and depression to name a few—martial arts can be the way or path to surpassing physical and mental limits.

    Richard Hutch (2005: 3) argues, in “Under Sail Alone at Sea: A Study of Sport as Spiritual Practice”, that even though an individual may be able to practise a sport self-reliantly—in the sense of martial arts this is through the use of the practitioner's own strength, endurance, mental discipline, and tenacity to overcome pain—there exist limits of human will; and “once those limits are reached in any lone sport, then a person’s lived relationship to the world may undergo basic change” (Hutch 3). John Will (2007), an Australian multi-style Black Belt, writes about the idea of lived experience as ownership. That is, taking what one has learnt in martial arts—or any other aspect of one's life—and making it a part of who they are as a person, embodying it (169). This means not having what a student would learn in martial arts separate to who they are outside of martial arts, but fusing it to their being—owning it—making it inseparable and indistinguishable from them as a person (Will 109). This is lived religion; it is an embodied experience, something that is sacred and special.

    The spiritual benefits of martial arts are considered to be 'soft' benefits. That is to say, these benefits are in addition to the physical: improved muscle tone, blood circulation, sense of balance, and precision of body movements—or kinaesthetic awareness. The 'soft' benefits are moving meditation, self-exploration, self-control, self-confidence, inner assurance, goal setting, personal honesty, and intense focus (Wacquant 499, Lines 5). In Western martial arts, the student would, most likely, not find these ideas of self-exploration, inner exploration, inner reflection, and moving meditation, taught to them in class. Instead, these ideas are found by the student over time through practice and the course of training—experientially. Devonport supports the proposition of experiential learning when it comes to the training of mental skills:

    [the martial artist's] personal understanding of the psychology of fighting and the subsequent development of mental skills was developed over a long period of time. This process was influenced by instructors and other martial artists with whom they shared experiences, and was refined by experiential learning. (2006: 104)

    In the beginning, the student is focused on the technique, completely, trying to understand the mechanics behind the movements. As one progresses through martial arts training, one memorises the core techniques—punches, kicks, blocks, joint-locks—until these begin to happen with less and less thought and effort required. It is the merging—or fusion—of one's self into an ongoing activity, into the moment, a fluidity and effortlessness of movement and thought (Bloch 43-44): this is a lived—and embodied—experience or state known as the zone or flow (Csikszentmihalyi 4).

    The flow state is scientifically “an optimal psychological state characterized by a state of concentration so focused that there is absolute absorption in the activity” (Csikszentmihalyi, Devonport 103. Sic, italics added). To be in the flow is to feel completely involved, focused, and concentrating on a goal; actions and awareness merge (Bloch 44). There is a sense of ecstasy, a feeling of transcending everyday boundaries. In the flow self-consciousness is removed for a time, and there is a “sense of transcending ego boundaries” (Bloch 44), a sense of connectedness and being a part of something grander, where the passage of time appears distorted and stretched (Bloch 44). The flow experience is not just the exclusive gift of professional fighter or athlete, and according to Csikszentmihalyi anyone can find enjoyment in pushing performance beyond existing boundaries (1990: 97).

    To experience a flow state, Csikszentmihalyi argues, there must be “quick and unambiguous feedback” in the activity, and it must have relatively defined goals (32). In martial arts there is often quick feedback—this can be seen best when two martial artists spar in training: if the martial artist cannot perform a technique correctly, for example a technique to avoid being hit, they will discover this quickly when they are hit. Continuing with the example of quick feedback, if a punch is thrown incorrectly the martial artist can end up with a sprained or broken wrist, the feedback (though painful) allows them to quickly understand that their technique was wrong or executed incorrectly. As for defined goals, the martial artist, whether training or fighting in a competition, has clearly defined goals for that time of action. The goals for training are to learn by being mindful and aware of one's actions and to understand what is being taught. In a competition the goals are set as per the specific rule set, but the clearly defined goal is to win; the means of winning is dependent on the competition ruleset.

    By the hundreds or thousands of technique repetitions the body goes through during the course of training, it can result in the induction of an altered state of consciousness (Vaitl et al 107). A practitioner of martial arts, through this repetitive intense training, can reach a key or peak state in which they can induce or enter an altered state of consciousness (ASC), due to their constant physical and mental training (Devonport 103, Henry 395). Devonport posits that “in order for martial artists to develop mental skills, they must be systematically practiced and integrated within physical skills training” (2006: 100), this teaches the mind how to slip into these trance states. With practice these states become easier to access as the mind learns the path to these ASC. Devonport's research agrees that linking mental training with physical training activities “appears to be an important consideration in the development of mental skills” (104). The importance of practicing the application of mental skills during training is that it allows the skills to become habitual and will also increase a martial artist's confidence in their outcome efficacy when used during a competition or self-defense situation (Devonport 105).

    The physiolgical act of training and the mental repetition—the continuous thoughts of 'arm goes here, relax shoulders, twist the hips, etcetera'—are important as a catalyst for entering altered states of consciousness (Devonport 103). Devonport's study suggests that it is necessary to 'over learn' techniques and drills, so that martial skills could be produced during a fight “without conscious processing” (103); Participant#3 concurred with this, during a fight “you're in the zone where the techniques that you've practiced, you've learned, you've drilled, [happen] you're not thinking” (Devonport 103). This is very similar to the sage advice of Bruce Lee, spoken in the film Enter the Dragon:

    A good martial artist does not become tense, but ready. Not thinking, yet not dreaming. Ready for whatever may come. When the opponent expands, I contract. When he contracts, I expand. And when there is an opportunity, I do not hit. It hits all by itself. (1973, italics added)


    Martial arts can provide many benefits and similarities to Eastern religious experiences: meditation in a moving form, self-control, self-confidence, emotional control, and self-awareness, to name a few. Personal honesty is a large part of many religious practices and within martial arts a practitioner quickly learns to be honest with themselves: one becomes aware of one's limitations, both physically and mentally. In the beginning, the way the world is and the way they want it to be tend to be a great distance apart. The student is shown these limits by themselves during solo training, by their teacher observing their actions, and by other students when it comes time to test techniques in sparring or drills. Through martial arts, one is able to refashion themselves into a 'transcendent' new-self, one that others will look up to, in awe and amazement, as something sacred and beyond the norm (Wacquant 501, Birrel 374).

    The martial arts are a way to train the body to the joys of physicality, according to Csikszentmihalyi “everything the body can do is potentially enjoyable” (1990: 94). An observer could see the study and path of the martial artist as one of sacrifice. It involves the 'giving' of something to the act; and this giving, through the risk of pain and injury, becomes sacramental. This sacrificial sacrament gives the act of training a religious significance. Martial arts, like a religious or spiritual practice, can infuse, in a practitioner's life, a “sense of value, excitement, and accomplishment” (Wacquant 501). John Will argues, about martial arts, that when training becomes inseparable from who one is in everyday life, “when it becomes something we love and practice as part of our natural day” (Will 169, italics added), one fully embodies this act. The ability to reach any of these altered or peak states appears to be linked to the idea of enjoyment (Hutch 8, Bloch 44, Csikszentmihalyi 29). Those practitioners of martial arts who put in the months and years of training—enjoy what they are doing and want to be where they are. Wacquant (1995) speaks of the passion of a fighter, the double sense of love and suffering—the patio—that ties a martial artist to their training (491).

    Csikszentmihalyi (1990: 94) quotes J.B. Cabell, in Flow, “A man possesses nothing certainly save a brief loan of his own body, yet the body of man is capable of much curious pleasure”. To train in the martial arts represents a taking hold of bodily ownership, personal autonomy, and self-mastery; the control of one's own body and mind. Not giving over to a higher power, but retaining the power in the self. And while Wacquant may speak about this, in the specific light of oppressive circumstances, it still holds true as a way for one to grab hold “of their own fate and remake it in accordance with their inner wishes” (501). The martial artist is able to feel in control of one thing, one thing in a world of things that are out of their control—the freedom to choose to train their body and how they will use it.

    This control flows, also, into the mental realms of consciousness. Steve Taylor argues that the flow enables one to take control of their consciousness and move past 'psychic entropy'—the worries, wants, desires and dreams—that clutter and run through the everyday mind (1). Csikszentmihalyi argues that “if one takes control of what the body can do, and learns to impose order on physical sensations, entropy yields to a sense of enjoyable harmony in consciousness” (1990: 94). The ability for a martial artist to manipulate their emotional states is, argues Devonport, “a demonstration of varying degrees of emotional intelligence” (103). This emotional intelligence cannot exist without personal understanding and awareness, which was brought about by confrontation and introspection. As in Buddhism, one cannot hope to control one's self before understanding one's self. Once the student is able to understand they begin to build up self-efficacy, which in turn leads to a greater feeling of control.

    Martial arts, as a form of moving meditation, can provide the student with different aspects of meditation. When the student is focused completely on understanding and learning a technique or drill their awareness is narrowed, where as if they are being mindful while practicing, their awareness will be widened (Vaitl 115). When the drilling of a technique or set of techniques becomes second nature, where the mind does not need to concentrate completely on the act, the student may enter a state of meditative absorption (Vaitl 115); similar to the Zen and Buddhist state of Samadhi—mental concentration or control (Vaitl 115).

    There exists a variety of techniques of meditation or spiritual and mental discipline one may attempt to use to develop a hold or control over their consciousness. “For instance, the various yoga traditions train the ability to concentrate attention, to control memory, and to limit awareness to specific goals [of the moment]” (Csikszentmihalyi 31). Devonport argues that kickboxers have developed mental strategies that allow control of their consciousness in very similar areas to those stated by Csikszentmihalyi. Participants in Devonport's study identified seven mental skills that they believed were connected to success in kickboxing: effective use of self-talk, relaxation, heightened concentration, emotional self-control, goal setting, coping with being hit, and imagery or visualisation (1).


    Professor John Callaghan argues, in an interview (Roberts), that he believes it is not possible for athletes to experience a spiritual component in every aspect of sport, such as group physical contact sports: soccer, football, rugby (Roberts np). However, it can be seen in individual sports where one can come to terms with their inner-self or spiritual-self (Roberts). As in traditional religion, not everyone has a 'religious experience' (Prebish 317)—a transcendental experience, but through a flow state one can come into contact with the spiritual and lived experience which does happen within martial arts, it can change lives.

    The flow is to be connected with the “positive aspects of human experience—joy, creativity, the process of total involvement with life” (Csikszentmihalyi xi). To observe this embodied, experiential spirituality of the everyday one may look at the monastic lifestyle of those professionally focused on training in sports and martial arts: the practitioner increasing training, sometimes sacrificing everything else, and the religious zeal shown on their face “after experiencing the supremacy of union with the Absolute” (Prebish 318). Or to observe the look on the face of the 'everyday' martial artist, someone who trains a number of days a week, who doesn't fight professionally, but has the look of wonder and excitement as they finally perfect a technique they had been working on—taking this wonder and boost to self-confidence into themselves, taking ownership of it. Are these not examples of the embodied spiritual experience or spiritual creativity?

    References:

    Birrel, Susan. “Sport as Ritual: Interpretations from Durkheim to Goffman.” Social Forces, 1981; Vol.60, No.2, pp. 354-376. University of North Carolina Press.

    Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow: The Pscyhology of Optimal Experience, 1990;
    pp. 29- New York: Harper and Row.

    Devonport, Tracey J. “Perceptions of the Contribution of Psychology to Success in Elite Kickboxing.” Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, July 01, 2006; CSSI, pp. 99-107. UK: University of Wolverhampton.

    Enter the Dragon. Dir. Robert Clouse. Concord Productions Inc, 1973.

    Henry, James L. “Possible Involvement of Endorphins in Altered States of Consciousness.” Ethos, 1982; Vol.10, No.4, pp. 394-408. Blackwell Publishing.

    Hutch, Richard. “Under Sail Alone at Sea: A Study of Sport as Spiritual Practice.” Australian Religion Studies Review, 2005; Vol.18, No.1. Eqinox Publishing.

    Lines, Rowan L. “Ritualisation of Eastern and Western Martial Arts: Shared Pathways to the Heroic.” RELN3000 research essay. UQ, October 31, 2008; pp. 1-5.

    Orsi, Robert A. “Is the Study of Lived Religion Irrelevant to the World We Live in? Special Presidential Plenary Address, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Salt Lake City, November 2, 2002.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, June, 2003; Vol.42, No.2, pp. 169-174.

    Prebish, Charles S. “Heavenly Father, Divine Goalie: Sport and Religion.” The Antioch Review, 1984; Vol.42, No.3, pp. 306-318.

    Roberts, Jessica and Allison Louie. “The Psychology of Sports and Spirituality.” News 21, July 18, 2007. January 05, 2009.<http://newsinitiative.org/story/2007/ 07/18/ the_psychology_of_sports_and> A Journalism Initiative of the Carnegie and Knight Foundations.

    Taylor, Steve. “Spirituality: The Hidden Side of Sports.” New Renaissance Magazine, 2002; Vol. 11, No.1, Issue 36. January 05, 2009. <http://www.ru.org/sports/ spirituality-the-hidden-side-of-sports.html> Renaissance Universal.

    Vaitil, Dieter et al. “Psychobiology of Altered States of Consciousness.” Psychological Bulletin, 2005; Vol. 131, No.1, pp. 98-127. American Psychological Association.

    Will, John B. “Challenge & Ownership.” Rogue Black Belt: Book Two, 2007; pp. 109-175. Australia: Willstream Publishers.

    Wacquant, Loie J. D. “The Pugilistic Point of View: How Boxers Think and Feel About Their Trade.” Theory and Society, 1995; Vol.24, No.4, pp. 489-535. Springer.
    Daniel: I don't know if I know enough karate.

    Miyagi: Feeling correct.

    Daniel: You sure know how to make a guy feel confident.

    Miyagi: You trust the quality of what you know, not quantity.
  6. nils is offline

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    Posted On:
    3/29/2012 12:09pm


     Style: FormerShotokan,Kickboxing

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Well, that was a nice read and definitely a good introduction to the topic. Many claims have to be verified by experiment, but that´s not what an essay has to provide.

    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is now on top of my reading-list. Seems like he could be one of the very few competent psychologists. The fact that flow-states appear more often when doing a task with direct feedback is something I wasn´t aware of before, although it makes perfect sense and coincides with my personal experience.

    The flow state is scientifically “an optimal psychological state characterized by a state of concentration so focused that there is absolute absorption in the activity” (Csikszentmihalyi, Devonport 103. Sic, italics added). To be in the flow is to feel completely involved, focused, and concentrating on a goal; actions and awareness merge (Bloch 44).
    It seems to me that this description of flow-states contradicts later statements (e.g. citation of Bruce Lee) and (since we´re talking about Zen here) those states you experience in (zen-)meditation.
    Aren´t those flow-states described later in the essay and experienced in sports/arts/meditation characterised by an absence of conscious concentration? At least in my experience those states are marked by a felt reduction of the primary thought and concentration-process, while the body intuitively goes through the motions (e.g. piano-playing) / reacts (MA).

    Such a description might be more in tune with quotes like
    When the drilling of a technique or set of techniques becomes second nature, where the mind does not need to concentrate completely on the act, the student may enter a state of meditative absorption
    As I said, a good read. I would have liked a summary in which the neccessary conditions for flow-states were listed and a description in how far MA can incorporate those.
    But then, that was not the main topic.


    P.S.:
    Personal honesty is a large part of many religious practices and within martial arts a practitioner quickly learns to be honest with themselves
    Ashida Kim?
  7. Mr.Miyagi is offline
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    Posted On:
    4/09/2012 10:08pm


     Style: BJJ/Zumba

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Sorry it took a while to reply, I've been out with a soft tissue tear through my back, awful pain! But now I can move! Woo. Should be back at training in a few weeks. But I digress!

    Well, that was a nice read and definitely a good introduction to the topic. Many claims have to be verified by experiment, but that´s not what an essay has to provide.

    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is now on top of my reading-list. Seems like he could be one of the very few competent psychologists. The fact that flow-states appear more often when doing a task with direct feedback is something I wasn´t aware of before, although it makes perfect sense and coincides with my personal experience.
    The direct feedback part of it really was what helped nail it all together, and actually is very important in how it applies to both business (which is where Csikszentmihalyi went with a lot of his Flow work) and sports; especially with MAs, which was the focus here. It's all pretty damn cool to read, anyway.

    Csikszentmihalyi actually had a positive for EMAs for this but stated in a sentence that he did not think this could apply to WMAs due to the 'violence' aspect; this confrontation is something I'd like to do at a later date to specifically focus on that and see if I could have him adjust his thoughts :).


    The flow state is scientifically “an optimal psychological state characterized by a state of concentration so focused that there is absolute absorption in the activity” (Csikszentmihalyi, Devonport 103. Sic, italics added). To be in the flow is to feel completely involved, focused, and concentrating on a goal; actions and awareness merge (Bloch 44).


    It seems to me that this description of flow-states contradicts later statements (e.g. citation of Bruce Lee) and (since we´re talking about Zen here) those states you experience in (zen-)meditation.
    Aren´t those flow-states described later in the essay and experienced in sports/arts/meditation characterised by an absence of conscious concentration? At least in my experience those states are marked by a felt reduction of the primary thought and concentration-process, while the body intuitively goes through the motions (e.g. piano-playing) / reacts (MA).

    Such a description might be more in tune with quotes like
    When the drilling of a technique or set of techniques becomes second nature, where the mind does not need to concentrate completely on the act, the student may enter a state of meditative absorption
    I think the focus here should be on 'absolute absorption in the activity'. At this point your concentration is so focused, it's not a conscious process, it becomes something unto yourself, part of you, owned by you. I get this in free rolling, especially with close training partners, we do some really cool **** that I have no idea how it happened, but at the exact moment, the fact I am doing/living/being the activity right then in the moment, I am completly absorbed in it and my body is acting from another part of me that is not my conscious concentrating mind; this is really what I love as a practitioner as well, it's amazing, but also frustrating for learning, haha.

    It's actually something I'm really interested to hear others about, how they deal with learning form spontaneous/'mindless' outcomes during training as I have a real issue remembering sometimes the things I do that are this 'spontaneous action/outcome' after I'm done
    .

    As I said, a good read. I would have liked a summary in which the neccessary conditions for flow-states were listed and a description in how far MA can incorporate those.
    But then, that was not the main topic.
    I was actually thinking about doing a book at some stage, as this is still a very undocumented area, to at least get these ideas more out there and people thinking about them.

    I'd love to do some experimentation stuff, but this is something definitely getting outside my range of experience and what I do actually for a living.


    P.S.:
    Personal honesty is a large part of many religious practices and within martial arts a practitioner quickly learns to be honest with themselves

    Ashida Kim?
    Bwahaha; yes, well...they aren't being truthful then, are they. Failing at a basic tennet. Or...is lying to oneself a basic rule for Ninjad3adly?
    Daniel: I don't know if I know enough karate.

    Miyagi: Feeling correct.

    Daniel: You sure know how to make a guy feel confident.

    Miyagi: You trust the quality of what you know, not quantity.
  8. ZenMMA is offline

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    Posted On:
    4/09/2012 11:58pm


     Style: Muay Thai

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I cant do these because I am partially colour blind, but when you do them isnt the idea to relax your focus so much that the image comes through. Contradicting the norm that to see something clearly you have to focus and concentrate.
  9. battlefields is offline
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    Posted On:
    8/12/2012 10:41pm

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     Style: BJJ/ MMA/ MT

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Rather than have this discussion off board, Miyagi, I thought I'd bring it back here (for everyone else, we had a discussion one night after training about the topic and Miyagi said he'd send me the link to his above article). I think I might've read this when you first posted it, but realised it was very much in tune with my own thoughts on the subject, so either didn't peruse it thoroughly (did you know that peruse thoroughly is an example of tautology? The more you know...) or thought it captured it perfectly, however, I have had a couple of thoughts on the topic.


    To train in the martial arts represents a taking hold of bodily ownership, personal autonomy, and self-mastery; the control of one's own body and mind. Not giving over to a higher power, but retaining the power in the self. And while Wacquant may speak about this, in the specific light of oppressive circumstances, it still holds true as a way for one to grab hold “of their own fate and remake it in accordance with their inner wishes” (501). The martial artist is able to feel in control of one thing, one thing in a world of things that are out of their control—the freedom to choose to train their body and how they will use it.
    This caught my eye, because I am a Theist, I believe in a Higher Power however, most people would understand my belief structure as agnostic, of which I am not. I'm not religious, so if it helps you understand my belief as agnostic because I don't believe in a religious God, please do so. Without touching on the definition of a higher power, if, as I do, you believe there is some sort of a Higher Power, then you believe that there is reason for you to be doing what you are doing. Although it may be incongruous to certain religious theory and laws, etc, it is actually congruous to belief in Higher Power. You may consider the fighters that thank Jesus, or God, for their performance. These fighters might view their training, their fighting as part of their Divine plan.

    Not sure if it is in the Bible or not, I'm no seminary graduate, but the often quoted saying, "God helps those that help themselves" is one that comes to mind. Yes, the act of training, fighting, etc might be considered to be "retaining one's power in the self", as that is how it appears when on is preparing themselves to look after themselves. However, if you believe, as I do, that the act of training is in preparation for one's Purpose, whatever it may be, then you may consider that it is not "taking" anything away from the Higher Power, but in fact, is contributing to the Plan.

    As we discussed, I find myself in "the zone" often while driving. I drove go-karts in my single digit age and was around race tracks and supercars in my teens, not events, but practice days because my father was a back up driver. The moment I received my licence, I was enrolled in an advanced driving course. To me, driving, particularly on open road, is cathartic. All of my reactions are instinctual, as I am sure most peoples are, however, I can zone out for an entire trip as I have zero concerns that my instincts need tuning. I could relate driving a car to the above. Learning to drive a car allows one to "retain power into oneself", you are in control of a potentially life destroying weapon and have the opportunity to take yourself where you please (within certain limitations). If you believe there is a Higher Power, then learning to drive means that you have learnt a skill that is ultimately part of the Divine Plan. As a believer, you couldn't separate the learning of the skill from being part of God's Plan by saying, "oh no, I learnt that for myself, so that I can go my own way and choose the roads I want to drive", as it would be incongruous to your own beliefs.

    I'm not saying that is what anyone should believe, by the way. I'm just saying that if one believed in God, then one would not consider their training, their fighting, to be outside of their Divine Mandate.

    Professor John Callaghan argues, in an interview (Roberts), that he believes it is not possible for athletes to experience a spiritual component in every aspect of sport, such as group physical contact sports: soccer, football, rugby (Roberts np). However, it can be seen in individual sports where one can come to terms with their inner-self or spiritual-self (Roberts). As in traditional religion, not everyone has a 'religious experience' (Prebish 317)—a transcendental experience, but through a flow state one can come into contact with the spiritual and lived experience which does happen within martial arts, it can change lives.
    This also caught my eye because I disagree with Professor John Callaghan, due to personal experience. A team sport does not equal a hive mind. As a prop playing rugby, I had a job within the team to run, hit up the ball, shrimp over it and get it back to my half back while in a ruck or in a maul. There were set plays in which I was integral. One was called Fireman and to this day when I hear the word, I have a mental flash where I should be positioned on the field. We drilled this repeatedly in training. Repeatedly. When game time came, I didn't have to think, "****, what do I do when I hit the ground?" I fucking shrimped and placed the ball as close as I could to where my half back could retrieve it. Granted, there was more communication than in an individual contact sport, but the result was the same, a play was called, the position was taken on the field and the move that was drilled over and over again was administered. I didn't have to think, I just reacted.

    Just because there is multiple people in the team doesn't mean that they individually can't be in "the zone". In my opinion.
    GET A RED BELT OR DIE TRYIN'.
  10. DerAuslander is offline
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    Posted On:
    8/13/2012 7:39am

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     Style: BJJ/C-JKD/KAAALIII!!!!!!!

    3
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    What a bunch of horsepuckey.
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