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публикувано 8.01.2011 г., 6:06 от Dr. Petar Valkov   [ актуализирано 8.01.2011 г., 6:57 ]

Will in sports and eastern martial arts - a comparative analysis

By Petar Valkov, MA in Clinical and counseling Psychology from Sofia University

Translated by: Mariya Velcheva

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    Will is one of the most important qualities in the human personality. Each of us wants to be more decisive, more autonomous, more insistent, more tenacious and able to overcome any obstacles and difficulties. These are just some of the characteristics of strong will. Conversely, you will hardly find a young man who likes in himself or in other qualities such as fear, uncertainty, laziness, cowardice and lack of initiative.
    The word will is understood and used in many different ways in everyday life as well as in science. In everyday life it can be interpreted as: 1. liberty (voluntary Bird) 2. an expression of desire (the will of the people ") 3. manifestation of strength of character (‘”strong-willed person’’).
    In modern psychology will is determined generally as a property of mind manifested in man's ability to achieve goals, overcoming internal and external obstacles. If the reason defines a goal, it is will that initiate action to achieve it. Therefore will develops only when we have target.
    Namely, it is  will that  vividly distinguishes human from the animal world as it turns human from an object into conscious being,who is able to set goals and achieve them. While the animal is driven by their own instincts and reflexes, the human being manages these instincts and dominates them by the power of will, which is given them by God. Bible itself encourages the characteristics of strong will as patience, self-control and composure:  “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city” (NIV, Prov.16:32).

How to develop our will

    The development of will is  of big importance to our lives. There are many people who do not stand out for their mind or any special knowledge or talent they possess, but due to their  tenacity and strong will they have achieved more than their talented, but "soft" opponents. God often trains our will by letting trials in our lives and giving us strength to overcome them. Defeating the temptations and bad habits  makes us stronger physically and mentally.
    Today we offer a variety of methods to develop a strong will: from sport to meditation, from expensive training seminars to obeying of simple even primitive rules such as: "How to develop strong will in 10 days? “ We will focus on the first polarity: will in sports and meditation. We will consciously distinguish them as two polar opposites. By sport we will understand every regular physical activity that increases heart rate, the need for oxygen and aim to express and improve the physical and mental fitness. Meditation will be considered in the context of eastern martial arts as  in this “packaging” it is usually announced as a technique for developing a strong will.

Will in sport

 We can rediscover our will and develop it further by sports. By sports we do not only improve the abilities of our physical and motor system  but also our mental processes which are raging  from relatively simple  levels  such as psychomotorics to the most complex ones such as thinking, imagination and will. Human will is manifested and developed in deliberate actions  which aim at achieving certain goals related to overcoming obstacles.The sportsman meets many difficulties during the training and the race. As a result their will becomes stronger.The principle that underlies it is the process of learning to do things from simpler to more complex. Training of the will sometimes begins with overcoming little difficulties.There are a number of interesting studies that has been carried out in connection with this claim. For example, a group of people were instructed to change little things in their lives for two weeks. Some of them were made to improve their posture while others to brush their teeth with the opposite hand they usually were used to. After this period, the participants were made laboratory tests that showed higher levels of self-control. Although these data is not absolutely proven, it suggests the idea that the training of will begins with small things.
    As for me, in order to train my will I had to overcome a range of difficulties in my past that seems  minor to me now. For example, to drink tea without sugar or sleep without a pillow. Another personal example for the training of the will was gym. At first I found it particularly difficult to lift weights as a hobby rather than a work for which I would be paid. However, what was the greatest challenge was the fact that I had to be persistent and go regularly to the trainings. I had to do it three times a week no matter whether it was cold or hot. In winter, when temperatures both outside and inside the room ware freezing, I continued with the regular workouts.The stronger my body became, the bigger my will was. The sad fact is that today the number of people playing sport becomes smaller. On the other hand, it has become "modern" among young people to smoke and drink. Sports not only train will but also stimulate the brain to secrete hormones that prevent bad mood and depression. People who exercise regularly (cycling, swimming, running) are healthier physically and mentally as a whole.

Will in eastern martial arts

    Beside the traditional means of training a strong will that involves playing a particular sport, today in Europe are developed new techniques for improving it.One of them is by training eastern martial arts. There are different kinds of martial arts that distinguish from one another depending on the grounds of their origin, the way of conducting the battle, the way of performing it. Our survey includes those who are more or less influenced by eastern pagan religions and philosophies, and actively or passively use their rituals and techniques. When people hear about karate, kung fu, judo, aikido or t-shu, they think most often of the physical aspects of martial arts. The kicks, hits, throws are just the surface. Their real part is immersed in a world of philosophy and religion and remain unnoticed by the uncritical beginner for a long time.
    Behind all of the martial arts stands disguised ideology: Taoism, Shinto, Buddhism. As the psychiatrist Pablo Martinez notes: "There is no practice without some theoretical basis". People who start to practice martial arts for exercise, often end with a changed spirit and mind. Under the guise that martial arts develops body and strong will, they become spiritual battlefield for the soul of man. Meditation is just one small part that shows it. . In the  most martial arts (karate, aikido) it is taught openly. In other cases the students themselves began to use meditation alongside training at a later stage. But here we are more interested in whether indeed these martial arts, which are curdled with Eastern religions, really help to develop a stronger will? What does science and Christian religion say about this issue?
    As a Christian psychologist, I believe that meditation does not help us to develop a strong will. Even more, it completely destroys it. By meditating, a person falls into a specific mental state of trance in which consciousness is altered, blunted and as a result the volitional activity is very weak or missing. If we consider that the state of trance narrows mind and limits choices, which can be used against the will of man as well, then, how meditation can develop the will? Meditation reduces the will in deadlock. People who practice meditation submit their mind and will completely to the coach, who is an object of worship and therefore his authority is accepted uncritically. Significantly, karate was prohibited in the former USSR: “Beside the ability to fight, karate forms cruelty and teaches a blind worship of the teacher”- the newspaper “Soviet sport” on May 27, 1986. Then what does karate has in common with the Christian way of living which is full of love and compassion for the fellow-man?

Can Christians practice martial arts?

    Today some Christians are trying to remove the mediation from the training of eastern martial arts but it is nothing more than a breaking of a thorn from a bush while the rest remains intact. One of the fathers of modern Karate-do - Funakoshi - says: "In true karate mind and technique become one."Karate, aikido and other martial arts are still taught and practiced as a religion in the countries from which they originate. Significantly, most sport coaches that teach martial arts also teach yoga. In this way, under the guise of sports exercises for developing of strong body and will is created a tool for manipulating spiritually  one’s personality, which touches the depths of human soul and spirit. In this case, these are only the words of ap. Apostle John helps us distinguish clearly between good and bad, useful and useless: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world" (NIV, 1 John 4:1-3).

In conclusion, I would like to remind you that strong will is a necessary and very useful quality of the human soul. Today we are offered a variety of methods to develop a strong will. Sport is good for body and mental health, as well as for developing a strong will and mind. The possibility of strengthening your will by practicing Eastern martial arts is questionable while the risk of getting your will enslaved and subjugated is very high. The training of a strong will in the Christians should go hand by hand with educating qualities in them such as compassion, condescension, love and benevolence, for which ap. Paul says: "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (NIV, 1 Tim. 4:8). And the cold and cruel will brought up in the ruthless and brutal fightings is unnecessary, harmful and dangerous.

Published by: Prozoretz Magazine 3, 2009

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