Chinese martial arts, meditation, academia, and longevity
A primary component of martial arts training for centered, calm, and peaceful thinking in an often high stress world is meditation. A right state of mind in a resilient fashion helps to cope with adversity in performance training, street combat, or everyday life. Meditation is a relaxed mental skill with focused attention which improves with practice. Regular meditation promotes a peaceful, calm, and resourceful preparation to face the challenges of life. The teaching technique of the focus of the mind accompanied with martial arts training may be used to increase martial arts power and promote recuperation (Wang, 2014). Mental training skills may be developed and applied by earning a black belt in Chinese Kenpo, being a sport karate fighter, running marathons, or, designing and completing academic assignments. The positive benefits of meditation on peak sports performance, academic pursuits, and lessons in life are progressively learned and applied throughout life.
Meditation is a mental skill taught in stress management classes to improve health and wellness. The modern scientific community is approaching validation of what martial arts masters have known with regards to health and longevity. Genes control stress in conjunction with the immune system. Modern research suggests potential mechanisms for the promotion of improved health and fitness with less stress and greater longevity with meditation techniques and Chinese martial arts. For example, telomeres are DNA components at the ends of the chromosomes which protect genes and allow cells to divide (Learn.Genetics, 2014). As reported by Wang (2014), “scientists at UCLA found that engaging in 12 minutes of yoga meditation daily for eight weeks increased the body’s supply of telomerase”, suggesting that an increase in telomerase is related to the slowing of the aging process (p. 36). Further, in a review by Tsang, Kohn, Chow, and Fiatarone Singh (2008), training in martial arts has demonstrated an greater isokinetic strength at all speeds versus sedentary controls, and may be associated with a “higher strength and bone mineral density, lower body fat in females, and blunting of the acute stress response to physical and mental stimuli” (p. 1265).
Martial artists constantly face and deal with stress while training in karate schools (dojos), while those in academia face psychological, physical, and other (e.g., economical) stressors as well. Regular exercise augmented with meditation promotes a balance in the various aspects of health and wellness in both martial arts and other areas of life such as academia. Meditation, exercise, nutrition, and rest reduce stress and increase wellness in the modern world. Meditation is practiced by cultures worldwide, and therefore ongoing research continues to provide a great deal relative to the physiological, psychological, and other life and longevity benefits.
Wang, R. (2014, February/March). The art and science of meditation. Black Belt, 36. Retrieved August 15, 2014 from blackbeltmag.com
Learn.Genetics (2014). Are telomeres the key to aging and cancer? Retrieved August 15, 2014 from: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/chromosomes/telomeres/.
Tsang, T., Kohn, M., Chow, C., & Fiatarone Singh, M. (2008). Health benefits of Kung Fu: A systematic review. Journal of Sports Sciences, 26(12), 1249-1267.
Dr. Fredrick is the Chair of Sports Studies at USSA, and holds a doctorate in sport psychology and a 1st degree black belt in Chinese Kenpo. Dr. Cromartie is the Director of Doctoral Studies at USSA, and Dr. Edwards is the Chair of Sports Exercise Science at USSA. Dr. Fredrick has completed teaching assignment(s) in China and Malaysia while visiting Thailand and Singapore; Dr. Edwards has completed a teaching assignment in Malaysia and visited China, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand and Singapore; and Dr. Cromartie has completed teaching assignments in Malaysia and Thailand, respectively.