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Martial Arts Training Methods Make You More Self Aware

Mar 17, 2021

Self awareness is the holy grail to living the best life possible. When we are self aware we can see how our unconscious mind is repeating adopted patterns from the past. 

From the minute we are born, we are filtering our experiences through various lenses. For example: “Do I feel safe” or “I could get into trouble if I don’t go along with this” or “I feel bad so I must be bad.”

Here are the big 5 patterns that are hard wired into us that motivate the adoption of certain patterns:

  • Do I matter?
  • Do I belong here?
  • Do I feel safe?
  • Am I capable of being competent to survive?
  • Is there enough freedom or autonomy for me to grow and learn here (as opposed to someone oppressing your decisions or thoughts)?

Take ANYTHING that upsets you, and chances are pretty good you can file it under one of these categories. They are a portal to being more conscious if we know what to look for.

As life goes by, we can look at the result we are getting to discover unconscious patterns that slow progress. One of the ways to see these unconscious patterns is to become more self aware.

In 1985, when I walked into my first martial arts school, I daily bit my nails until they bled. I had so much nervous energy in my body I used all kinds of strategies in an attempt to overcome the various traumas that had happened to me from the beginning. 

After a year of training, I realized one day I no longer bit my nails. I was confident. I was humble. I was able to listen better, just to name a few...

Looking back, martial arts allowed me to “discharge” all the pent up energy in my nervous system. In hindsight, it’s why I became so obsessed with it. In the beginning, I trained 6 days a week no less than 5 hours a day – for 9 years! I guess I had a lot of motivation.

Non-Verbal Communication

One of the side benefits of training so hard, was I got really good at reading body language. 

I actually got to the point if someone started thinking of kicking me, I could “see” the energy travel to their leg and I would move before they kicked. 

It was a profound experience. It's one of the reasons I became a trauma therapist. It’s easy for me to see the energy that is stuck in someone’s body.

When you practice martial arts consistently, (And no, you don’t have to do it 5 hours a day like I did) you will gain many side benefits as well. One of them is self awareness.

Self awareness is essential for seeing habituated patterns we adopted early in life to survive in our environments.

If we are lucky, and are raised in safe and loving environments, life is much easier. People with this kind of background handle life challenges much easier. They have a nervous system default something like “This will all work out”.

But what about the person raised in a hostile environment? Chances are pretty good there will be many life patterns carried forward that frame the world as not a safe place to be.

These people, outside of their awareness, are being unconsciously motivated by a default nervous system that actually sees the world as dangerous. They will unconsciously default to patterns that assume life is not safe. Here are a few examples that may seem familiar to you:

Defensive behavior when someone is critical about something we did

  • Thinking we are "bad
  • Shame based behaviors
  • Self doubt
  • Complaining
  • Victim kinds of language
  • Chronic physical ailments

In the real world, all of us fall on a feeling spectrum. On one end is “totally unsafe" on the other end is "What am I learning from this?”

With self awareness, and a few other tools, we can shift our nervous system to be more flexible and open to other possibilities – rather than using fear based strategies to get by. 

Responsibility Speeds Transformation

If you are a person who often doesn’t feel safe in the world, you can accelerate the momentum of being more flexible in life by learning and practicing responsibility.

I want to share with you a powerful practice that can shift you from feeling victimized to feeling empowered in minutes.

It works like this...

When you are triggered about anything in life say to yourself:

“These are my feelings”

“These are my emotions”

“This is my interpretation"

“I’m the one reacting to this situation”

“I’m the one who is responsible for the decision(s) I’m about to make”

“This is my reaction or fear”

…and so on.

You see most “knee jerk reactions” are based on memories and beliefs that have been repeated for so long, we don’t even question them. In reality, those reactions are a portal to more self awareness.

Humans are meaning-making machines. If you actually pause and question the meaning you've assigned to a previous experience, you’ll most often find out you needed more information to make a more accurate assessment.

Many default patterns we use, came from outdated models we used when we were little and unable to use good critical thinking skills.

You no longer have to stay a victim of your past when you practice what I'm suggesting here. As you practice the exercise above, you'll start to see how quickly you may slip into victim orientations. Now you have a way to re-program yourself so that "old habituated thinking" doesn’t continue to lead to poor results.

Martial Arts Accelerates Self Awareness

Practicing martial arts will accelerate your ability to better understand your intentions moment-by-moment.

It will help you to tune in more accurately to your inner experience so you can questions some of your motives. The reason for this, is to get good at martial arts you need to practice the mind and body connection. The only way to get good at the techniques is to consistently practice of each one. This practice helps the brain integrate.

Practicing techniques on the right and left side of your body harmonizes the brain.

Repetition enables you to see how habits are built. Over time, you will FEEL more of your life experiences rather than always coming from the left logical brain.

Try the practice Im suggesting above for the next few months as an experiment. If you feel drawn to it, come back and post a comment below and let us know what you discovered. 

Can you relates to this article? If so, please post a comment below so we can learn from each other. Also, if you have questions, please ask them below. Feel free to share this on your favorite social media platform to help spread the word. Thank you for that! 

May you have many blessings on your journey to higher consciousness.