Training the Mind

Whatever our goals for training – fitness, self-defense, confidence, focus – one of the reasons we persist is because it feels good to do it. That is important. 

It is not that training is pleasurable or easy. But from day one we have an ideal to strive for and it feels good to go for it. 

It feels good to get stronger, faster and more skillful, every day. 

Being able to meet a challenge is a good feeling.

That is a consistent reward of training. 

Mind training provides the same reward.

Like karate training, mind training takes persistence, energy and skill. As in karate training, if we are impatient, we get frustrated. If our practice is slack or our schedule is sporadic, the training won’t work. 

Like karate training, mind training works when we have a clear purpose, and a clear path to follow.  

In some schools of Zen closely associated with martial arts, they say “there is nowhere to go and nothing to achieve.” 

They say we already have a perfect nature, it’s just hidden by the disturbance in our mind. 

Zen ran aground on the misunderstanding of that doctrine. 

In our approach to mind training we have clear, wholesome objectives, and a way to achieve them. 

Like karate training, inner training gathers momentum as we practice. We go deeper. We get better at it. The flow state we access is profound and liberating. 

Physical training and mind training are both necessary for high performance, and for a cultivated life. They form a continuum of practice. Insights and experiences from one inform the other. 

One of the signs that our inner training is working is that we enjoy doing it. 

Our body becomes energized and unified as we master our physical training. Our mind becomes tranquil and unified as we practice mind training. 

As we enter the dojo for class, we set aside whatever extraneous stuff is on our mind. We can deal with all that later. It is like clearing away the leaves from the training area, so we have a clean place to practice. Then we are ready to begin. 

In the next video in this series we will begin instruction in the technique. 


This video is based on a chapter of the book “True Karate Dō” by Jeffrey Brooks, available on Amazon.

Post and photo copyright © 2023 Jeffrey Brooks


Read True Karate Dō – 

“One of the best books I’ve read in years, inviting and compelling. 

Jeff Brooks moves effortlessly from martial arts to Buddhism to consciousness studies, self-transformation, and related fields in this wide-ranging and Illuminating study that has much to offer both novice explorers and veteran practitioners. 

A splendid achievement.”

— Philip Zaleski, Editor, The Best Spiritual Writing series 

— Co-author, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams.

A Controversy

True Karate Dō is available on Amazon in paperback, hardcover and Kindle Edition

Watch the short video “Kata and the Diamond Sutra Master”, about a monk’s awakening and the relationship between karate and inner practice.

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