A serious martial artist is always looking for that extra something that will take his or her practice to the next level. Perhaps your strength has plateaued, or maybe there’s just something missing. Cameron Shayne, the founder of Budokon, would suggest that a combination of the martial arts with yoga and meditation, will be the magic formula you’re looking for. Is it right for you?
Budokon claims to be “the way of the spiritual warrior,” pretty heady stuff for something that didn’t exist until 2004. But perhaps that’s its beauty. The martial arts are always evolving, meeting the needs of the practitioners in their own contexts. And Western martial artists certainly have a different context than those born in Japan, Korea, or Thailand, for example.
Western martial artists exist and practice in a unique culture. The pace at which we are expected to live and perform, even the pace at which we are expected to have fun, is ridiculously fast and stressful. There is very little in our society or culture that gives us permission to be in the moment, to do nothing, or to cultivate silence and a state of being at rest. Never in history has a culture taught that to thrive is to be in constant motion and to continually produce. So the martial artist can either practice within this context, or refuse to be driven to out-perform and over-achieve, choosing instead to cultivate both the mind and the body in a gentle, respectful, and organic way.
Shayne is not the first to discover that yoga and martial arts are complementary. The meditative component of yoga is a part of many martial arts, especially those which focus on cultivating peace and harmony. The bushi, the peacemaking warrior, was contemplative, as was necessary to bring peace to oneself and others. Budokon invites practitioners to engage in meditation and yoga for the same reasons.
Practicing martial arts and yoga in the same space can be tricky. Of course there are studios dedicated to just that (see Shayne’s Budokon University), but if you find yourself drawn to the idea of combining the practices in your own home gym or workout area, you may find it to be a challenge. Any martial arts practice, especially for beginners, will require many safety measures. Instruction is the key, but having a safe environment is just as important. While a padded surface for yoga may not be helpful for standing poses, a compromise should be found. A set of textured foam martial arts mats similar to those used in martial arts studios can work well for both, as long as the mats are not too thick.
Adding yoga to your martial arts practice will not only improve your performance, but it can help you focus on being content with your practice as it is. Opening yourself to the possibilities meditation can offer is a bold step; make it confidently.