This has been a difficult year. I had a major illness that laid me low for several months followed by a car accident that herniated two discs in my neck. Next I ended up in the hospital with chest pains. Needless to say I am living the Old Man Karate lifestyle.

I mention these afflictions as a life lesson. Pain and suffering are a fact of life. While we may not want to embrace them we definitely need to validate that they are a part of us.

I’m quite secular and have no faith in a supreme entity. But I do believe in prayer. We as humans have a complicated relationship with ourselves. We feel both physically and emotionally. Some would claim we feel spiritually. On this last instance I am not sure. Then again the three or four voices in my head may be the cosmos trying to enlighten me.

When we train properly we change our mental process. A good martial art student learns to touch the deep corners of their being. Some call it meditation while some may call it focus. I will call it anything you like to highlight a theory for the basis of a conversation. Those of certain religious faiths practice prayer.

I find little difference between prayer, meditation, and focus. The concept of no-mind  (Mushin) is well known in the martial arts circles. This is the soul of our art. If you are only practicing your martial skills to learn techniques or self defense you are missing the biggest benefit the arts can offer.

I’m not speaking about some deep chanting robe wearing practice. What I do present is that your mind is your best weapon. You must train your mind to do the work. If you only train your body you are not united as a single force. No magic, no religious undertones, just plain and simple execution of acknowledging yourself as more than a collection of muscle and bone.

We are our minds. I understand this. My body has been heavily broken this year. My physical skills for the martial arts are severally limited. My mind has kept me sane. I can still function because I have trained my mind. If my only tools were my fist or foot there is no way I could triumph. The mind is my tool along with the body. You must train both.