Physical and mental training compliment each other. We are not a set of individual systems functioning independently. We are built for movement and designed with amazing brain power. It’s my contention that the athlete is predisposed to greater mental achievement.
A portion of our higher rank black belt test is scripture memory. By the time a candidate tests for fourth degree, they memorize Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7 (aka the sermon on the mount) and their test concludes with the 15 minute recitation of these 111 verses. This kind of preparation takes time, creative learning strategies, and perseverance to say the least. It’s often said to be the most difficult part of the test and consequently, the portion people tend to take the most pride in completing. A new skill set is developed and exercised to reach a challenging goal.
My personal strategy is memorizing scripture, poems, and speeches while running. Blood is pumping furiously to the brain, my feet remember what to do without much supervison, and there is plenty of time between step one and the end of the day’s prescribed miles. I’ve heard each song on my running play list more times than necessary and what’s the lasting benefit? The time and the miles will be spent no matter what, so why not assign a mental goal to each physical mile?
Learn line one for a quarter mile
Learn line two for a quarter mile
Learn line three for a quarter mile
Recite all three together for a quarter mile
Repeat through the passage till I run out of miles. On occasion, I’ve found my physical pace slowing so I can reach my mental goal.
In karate, my students take pride in knowing not only their kata (form) but the names of the stances, symbolism of the bows, the Japanese word for each technique, and the story behind the battle it represents. It’s so much more than “this hand goes here.” It’s the why behind the action, the purpose to the movement, the end for the means…it’s more.
The mental component gives the physical exercise added dimension. Not only that, when scripture is the task at hand, the body, mind AND soul reap the benefits. My whole being has been enriched at six to seven miles an hour…(enriched, but still slow).
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