RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

jms sc, modified 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 6:40 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 6:40 AM

Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

Posts: 4 Join Date: 8/11/22 Recent Posts
The internal martial arts ( Tai Chi Chuan, Ba Gua Zhang, Xing Yi Quan, Yi Quan, Aikido, Daito Ryu...) are those that do not use body skills based on muscular strength but on mental intention. Grandmasters achieve very different body skills than a judo fighter or boxer.

Those skills are, for example, to have an extremely relaxed and therefore heavy and stable body. They are almost impossible to move because they redirect the forces entering their body. Or having the body continuously expanded in 6 directions or Zhan Zhuang, i.e. always having the intention of opposing forces inside the body that pull and make the body open and stay interconnected. Another skill is that the movement always starts from the Hara and the forces move inside the body in a spiral, there is no straight or curved movement. There are other skills like Fajin (explosive force).

Morihei Ueshiba, creator of aikido, explained that his skills were increased after a mystical experience similar (in my opinion) to entering jhanas.

With all this in mind I was wondering if those of you who have achieved, for example jhanas, have felt side effects in the body equal to the internal martial arts skills.

Thanks
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 8:45 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 8:45 AM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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Just a word of caution... there is a lot of self-promotional/entertainment stories about internal arts. At the end of the day, internal martial arts still relies on basic leverage and transmittal of physical force with the body to hit -- it's not mental or just intention. But it is a really neat use of leverage and physical force so it's worth exploring... 

This is just my opinion, but I think mystical experiences can sometimes lead to increased abilities --- but only the abilities you have already trained. After some awakenings, some people do report increased abilities. It makes sense to me that a martial artist could become better at martial art through an awakening, but so can a musician become better at playing a musical instrument. It does seems like some awakening do release some of the psychological fears/resistances to going "all in" in an activity. So maybe it can be helpful in that way... But these people tend to already be very proficient at their art. It's not like a mediocre martial arts suddenly becomes a master through a mystical experience, or that a non-muscian can suddenly play a musical instrument. emoticon 

A lot times these stories are pure entertainment designed to sell books/movies or are self-promotional to get you to buy training videos/equipment/classes, etc.  (The classic scam is that bad internal arts places will intially teach you a few moves that really do work, but it's just to get you hooked on paying for more and more classes where they hold back teachings to milk you for all your money without giving much in return.)

I only mention all of this because I spent a lot of fun but wasted hours reading about this stuff, then training for a short time with a few teachers (while also obsessing about meditation/awakening). It's worth what you are paying for it, but my advice is to understand that there are no short cuts to learning how to fight/defend and it's a serious time commitment no matter how you do it. It's a brutally difficult road to becoming a proficient fighter and ultimately I decided it wasn't that high of a priority for me -- but it might be for you! no worries! (Meditation is also one of those things that is a long and difficult road and not a substitute for directly working on a specific skill/activity/psychological change.)

Hope this is helpful in some way, definitely feel free to ignore.
jms sc, modified 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 9:25 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 9:25 AM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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Thank you for your reply and your point of view.

On the one hand I agree that there are many scammers trying to sell you some kind of "magic".
​​​​​​​
On the other hand I have trained and checked this with honest people whose training is more than just leverage and physical strength. For example, one such master I learned with, whose body was as relaxed as a person who has passed out and at the same time that body has the intention to expand like the inner tube of a tyre... it felt like trying to push a truck.

That was my main doubt... do meditative attainments cause a similar change in the body's connections? does it change anything in the body?
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 10:07 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 10:05 AM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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That classic demonstration still has a normal physical explanation: they're using the deeper postural muscles to align the bones and the force is compressing their bones into the floor (so no need to use muscle tension to push back). It wouldn't work if they were on roller skates emoticon If the person was as heavy as a refrigerator and they were on roller stakes, it would feel like pushing a refigerator on wheels. emoticon

But that said, it's a great skill because they don't need to "push back" if the floor is going to do it, so it leaves them free to use their muscles in other ways (e.g. redirecting the force into a throw, or freeing up a leg to kick, etc.)
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 10:17 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 10:17 AM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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I'm adept at the jhanas (daily practice for years) and, as a side effect (I guess), I have very noticeable changes in energy flow and some siddhis like seeing through closed eyes. I am also a competitive amateur athlete. Although I have made a few attempts to port my concentration skills to athletics, I haven't noticed any improvement in athletic performance. 
Adi Vader, modified 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 10:48 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 10:48 AM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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Hi. I am a very proficient jhana practitioner. I have the ability to relax very very deeply and enter nirodha sampatti at will.

Stress and anxiety have caused a lot of damage to my body over many years. Now there is no more stress and anxiety so the adverse effect on the body is gone.

I have noticed absolutely no improvement in athletic ability. I always had average physical proficiency and still am quite average.

Now I do have an absence of fear, so I might be able to do better at sports but I havent applied myself in that direction.
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Raphael Scullion, modified 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 5:20 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 5:20 PM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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[Credentials for this answer: I'm a former professional instructor for Chinese internal martial arts (Wudang Nei Jia) with about 10 years of teaching experience. The teacher I trained with had a healthy passion for mma, ground fighting and other modern sparring based fighting styles. I'm also moderately adept at Jhana practice and would self-diagnose myself somewhere past stream entry on a pragmatic dharma path. On its last reading my Midichlorian count was around 6.500.]

There's a difference between what may be called internal power, internal martial art skills and fighting skills and the overlap isn't necessarily as big as some martial art self-marketing may suggest. 

Rooting and softness - "to have an extremely relaxed and therefore heavy and stable body" that is "almost impossible to move because they redirect the forces entering their body" - are great internal martial arts skills that take years to develop. But as YouTube videos of encounters between internal martial artists and moderately skilled competitive fighters will show you, they are borderline useless in the absence of regular fighting skills like footwork, rhythm, striking power and the ability to take a punch when not in perfect alignment with your qi. There is no other way to develop these skills than sparring with non-compliant opponents. 

I would think of internal power as a measure of quality at which a person is able to relate to their "energy body" (in a sense of the word that is agnostic to a metaphysical claim on the existence of said energy) Qualities of internal power would be things like freedom of internal flow, its strength but also subtlety, and feelings of depth, focus and availability of "inner reservoirs" from which that flow may be generated. 

In my experience, the practice of jhanas definitely carries over well into practices of "internal power". Stronger powers of concentration translate into finer grained awareness of the energy body. It also feels like the generation of jhanic factors like piti and sukha nourishes over time the amount and quality of energy flow that is available to awareness. (On a side note, visual concentration practice like fire kasina, while also paying attention to the energy body creates really interesting feedback-loops between the visual and the somatic field that are great territory for both internal martial art and insight practice) 

I think of internal martial arts skills as ways in which a person applies "internal power" to release, receive or redirect kinetic energy against an opponent, with a partner or by themselves in form practice. For this to happen, awareness of the energy body must become connected to the actual body, its structure and movement. This happens only gradually in actual practice (and in fact, probably is developed best the other way around, by working with the body and developing the internal by listening to the physical) Meditative attainment on the cushion doesn't automatically translate into better mind-body coordination, in my experience.

That said, one of the most striking before-after effects around what I consider to have been stream-entry was a sudden shift of quality in my martial arts forms. The fresh understanding of anatta gained in that period removed a deliberating, contracted cognitive barrier that had been impeding these ingrained movements to a larger degree than I had realised before. A lot of the Zen martial arts folklore about spontaneous movement, "striking with the sword like a toddler that drops a toy" that had only made sense intellectually before, suddenly made sense on an intuitive physical level. 

I apologise for the wall of text. Like many internal martial artists, I enjoy geeking out about it a bit too much. ;)
Isak Tougaard, modified 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 5:50 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 5:50 PM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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I think I had it happen the other way around: By applying myself to strength training and resisting the effects of a cold shower, I became able to use my will and concentrate very intensely, even if for short periods of time.
I think that intense concentration is what has enabled me to access jhanas.
Eric Abrahamsen, modified 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 9:13 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/28/22 9:13 PM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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I've been practicing taiji a little longer than I've been meditating, for six years or so. Needless to say I'm not particularly good at either, but I am intensely interested in the similarities or analogical connections between the two.

Qigong and other internal arts talk about the "absorption" of the mind into the body -- into the fascia and the channels of qi. Your awareness is essentially located as much within the body as it is within the brain. This seems to be considered a very high level of attainment.

That sounds pretty jhana-ish to me. My personal private definition of access concentration is a very noticeable moment that comes after sitting for a bit, when my awareness seems to drop down and become more "embodied", like a transmission catching a lower gear and suddenly pulling a lot more weight behind it. Everything seems more stabilized, bottom-heavy, and physical. My jhanas may be a work in progress, but the first four certainly seem like they involve a merging of mind and body.

My impression is what the nei gong folks are talking about takes a more time and practice and physical transformation, but I would guess it's the same neighborhood. It  might not have much to do with stopping dump trucks with your bare hands, but it's what came to mind.
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Not two, not one, modified 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 12:29 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 12:29 AM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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Hi, I'll offer my own opinion and experience.  I am a master in one of those internal arts, dervied from Aiko Ryu Daito Jujitsu.  My lineage is korean, co-founded at the same time as Aikido.  I am a third generation student from the founder (so arguably fourth generation from Takeda, although the Japanese deny the Korean link), through two different lineages. I have my master rank registered with the Korean-government approved organisation.  I have also followed the path of insight to the end and am proficient in the rupa jhanas.  Feel free to disregard any of that as bullshit if you want, I won't be offended!  :-)

My experience was the that internal practices of my art were excellent conditioning and preparation for meditation, but did not offer anything like stream entry or jhana, although they gave some access to concentration states, mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of two-body systems, energy development, expansive perception and flow states.  After stream entry I lost all interest in martial arts for some time, but following further practice in TMI and somewhere around second path I returned and found through physical pliancy and energy control that I could harness significantly improved energetic power. Although I already had a reputation for being very strong, I started to exceed my previous strength despite a training interregnum, as well as showing inexplicable endurance, ability to control pain etc.  Wim hof breathing was also there in the mix.

So I would say the internal martial arts provided a strong basis but were not substitute for serious meditation, while serious meditation significantly elevated my performance in the internal martial arts. However, as an experienced practitioner, I would note that the internal martial arts involve extensive training in body positioning and body interactions, as well as technical knowledge of specific techniques, so even if physical performance and strength is improved by meditation this will not substitute for that martial arts knowledge.  Having physical pliancy, endurance, pain resistance when desired, and strength, does not substitute for years of learning and conditioning of the body and mind.

So best to see them as parallel tracks, with some potential for synergy.  As as Shargrol says, watch out for the bullshit merchants.  Look for evidence of clinging, and if you see it then it is best to avoid them until they have progress further on their spiritual journey.

That's my view anyway.  Your mileage may vary!   Feel free to disagree.

Malcolm
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 1:10 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 1:04 AM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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jms sc
The internal martial arts ( Tai Chi Chuan, Ba Gua Zhang, Xing Yi Quan, Yi Quan, Aikido, Daito Ryu...) are those that do not use body skills based on muscular strength but on mental intention. Grandmasters achieve very different body skills than a judo fighter or boxer.

Those skills are, for example, to have an extremely relaxed and therefore heavy and stable body. They are almost impossible to move because they redirect the forces entering their body. Or having the body continuously expanded in 6 directions or Zhan Zhuang, i.e. always having the intention of opposing forces inside the body that pull and make the body open and stay interconnected. Another skill is that the movement always starts from the Hara and the forces move inside the body in a spiral, there is no straight or curved movement. There are other skills like Fajin (explosive force).

Morihei Ueshiba, creator of aikido, explained that his skills were increased after a mystical experience similar (in my opinion) to entering jhanas.

With all this in mind I was wondering if those of you who have achieved, for example jhanas, have felt side effects in the body equal to the internal martial arts skills.

Thanks


I have felt a connection between soft jhnas (producing piti and sukha) and chi / qi energy. I do some very basic tai chi and qi gong practices and also a form of spiritual healing. I find that accessing chi can trigger jhanas or vice versa, entering jhana can help one access chi. There is something in common between them.

Spiritual healing
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/spiritual_healing

Tai-chi videos 1 - 10 on the playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL340679DF3B007160
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txnGD4rI2J0&list=PL340679DF3B007160

Qi gong
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TO8rYCasa-M

I find that the 5th jhana is accessible through relaxation exercises whether or not one has experienced lower jhanas:
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/08/preparing-for-meditation-with.html
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 1 Year ago at 1/8/23 4:54 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/29/22 4:35 AM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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Martin
I'm adept at the jhanas (daily practice for years) and, as a side effect (I guess), I have very noticeable changes in energy flow and some siddhis like seeing through closed eyes. I am also a competitive amateur athlete. Although I have made a few attempts to port my concentration skills to athletics, I haven't noticed any improvement in athletic performance. 

Are you adept at the hard visuddimagga  jhanas? I have been trying g for a year? 
Djalal-Pierre Rothan, modified 1 Year ago at 12/2/22 4:02 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 11/30/22 4:53 AM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

Posts: 4 Join Date: 7/12/22 Recent Posts
Hello,
From my personnal experience ; I am practicing and teaching Systema a russian martial art without “rule” “competition” and “technique” (what works works, the goal is 1. to survive 2. to stay human, 3. to enjoy “not being perfect” !).
It is based on “principle” and “breath” … so internal / external.
Systema is used by some russian military force : so its “real” and practical (and not 100% because nothing really is !). But it is not a sport (combat are not one vs one but multiple versus one, weapon and everything is allowed… most of the training consist of showing one’s fear and making peace with it). As a sport, or in pure “one / one with rule” situation, it wouldn’t be so effective.

Here my observation on the subject :
Some “take down” and some “punch” are very effective and have excellent result, those are often considered as “magic” by the students before its explained to them. 
A few factors interact to create this sensation :
1/ basic Anatomy ; you can move someone using their muscular chain without much resistance.
2/ “Still point” / ie. leverage : you create an illusion of “safety” . ex. If someone grab your hand, just by putting very little tension in the contact area (and no tension elsewhere), the tension will propagate to the opponent, and you can amplify it and direct toward an articulation. Which you take “control” off.
3/ the opposite (of 2) : By relaxing more and more while creating a “still point”, you will redistribute the force toward the one pushing you.
Someone trow me a punch, by relaxation (the impact vibration will follow the path of less resistance ; ie. where there is relaxation in the body), I can put their strength into my punch and give it back to them.
Very effective in a “dojo / training” situation, very helpful in a real situation (you learn to move in daily life), but not a “technique” 100% proof because its depend on the strengh of the blow. That what is used by dancer to create smoothness in the body (rap / moon walk …).
4/ Some extra application of leverage : you can create a “virtual still point” and do a takedown on an opponent without touching him (his body will create the same muscular tension) and it will work … ButIn practice it is only doable on someone you have a connection with ( someone receptive / not too tense / a student of you ….) . So its a great tool to learn “still point” and relaxation but not “practical” and not “magic/ ki” related.

5/ A tool to understand “sensation” in the body :
Crossing 2 staff at 90° : there is resistance (and sensation of resistance).Y ou cross 2 staff at 75° and you rotate one of them : no resistance at all. (no resistance = no sensation of being manipulated).
When you do the same with Hand and body, and you move the opponent with an 75° angle they wont sense “why” they fall. You do that by moving from the hips and with the proper muscular chain.

6/ Combat and adrenaline interact : Most of the time the “master” is more relaxed than the student and so the later have a hard time sensing what is happening in his body ! Same with watcher (class student).
To counter / Learn from that :
- have the master train with a normal / real speed opponent is very good for learning how to maintain samadhi while fighting (even just an “observer” mind set is hard to maintain after the first impact or failure !).
- Have student / master work even more slowly to really feel the little things (muscular, mental and knowledge).

“Samadhi” and “result” : Being relaxed is impossible with a mind full of dukha, even if you strech or “breath”, the body will tense when an attack comes.
by applying “emptiness” : an attack come, and you react with less “I”, the body will then react with more softness. When the reaction is good, then you “memorise” how good it feeled, and let the body learn from it.
This works a lot like Jhana learning : you learn by body happiness rather than intellectual comprehension.

I have seen a master (Mickael Ryabko), using “love” as a way of disarming a knife multiple time in front of a crow (and I knew the attacker, he was traumatized by real life aggression and wanted a “real answer” so he really was into his “attack”) : no magic there. By being – on purpose - so full of love he purposely destroyed the attacker agressivity, time and time again. And the good thing is “samadhi” spread into opponement. The video is on youtube because the same master ... love money !!
Is it real, yes, is it effective yes, Is it magic : no Its takes lot of training to get there and good instruction are rare ;traditional martial art are “secret” (and founder are dead usually) ; and most “internal art” practitioner don’t train with “real” opponent (tons of way of doing that without being wounded or resorting to violence).

The best website to understand interaction between violence and martial art : http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com
Obviously there is a great interaction between “art” and meditation, and humanity dukka’s beeing, money -power – secret have the same interaction as in yoga, meditation school (+ Hollywood factor ...). A shame because nothing feels better than having one of your student managing to “beat” you.
As for me, a few year of meditation increased my martial art skill 10X more than previous “pure” training. MCTB and POI are way more powerful as a meditation tool than martial art. But some specific dukkha really need some movement / impact to be seen (in my case).
Hope that help !
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Griffin, modified 1 Year ago at 12/1/22 5:53 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/1/22 5:53 AM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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Can you share the "love dissarming" video? Also, any resources about still point, YT tutorials etc.? Just the basics...
Djalal-Pierre Rothan, modified 1 Year ago at 12/2/22 3:54 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/2/22 3:42 AM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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Some basic training ;samadhi / relaxation and efficiency :
To “test it by yourself” !
preparation :*you need 2 player who have basic martial art knowledge on how to take a punch and how to trow a punch and the mental to do it without too much adrenaline (sound easy but it is not ).To avoid injury you aim for the big muscle aera (chest, solar plexus, upper back of the body …).

The drill :* n°1 stand 5 meters away -so there is a necessity to walk between each action - from the “receiver” (n°2).
1/ N°1 roleplay - think of the opponent as his enemy - , then move and hit (with anger) as strong as he can (single punch). Both recover.
2/ N°1 think of the opponent as a punching bag, then comes and hit.
3/ N°1 think of the opponent as a loved one, move and hit with compassion.In order to recover after this exercise : a few squat / push up … to dissipate relent of the hit and emotion in the body.
Both talk about what happen

Consequence : Questions will come around the next month for both participants :
- basic : how does it works, why (muscular chain and relaxation rather than magic).
- More advance : How to maintain / have love in a “real and scary” situation (breathing/ purpose …)
- advanced : why do I go on study martial art if I’m full of love and not in a necessity situation (army, police …). What can I do when I’m not full of love … (mctb).

Moving while breathing :
- Watch how the little kid (3-5 years) walk and play, by loosing and restoring balance.
Compare to martial art way of moving from the hips (ex. Book “hidden zen” is very good for the link between samadhi and Japanese martial art ).
Compare with movement from professional dancer (less mysticism, more physical explanation).

Then, do this drill :
- walk 10 meters as slow as you can while breathing (5mn is a good start !)
- Walk backward 10 meters as slow as you can
Movement is the same : by moving from the correct muscular chain, you will maintain calm and relaxation, and most of your move will be efficient.
If you want to go deeper : same drill with long inhale / short exhale and short inhale/ long exhale ; same drill with apnea / long/short inhale.
This will allow you to learn the relation between calm/panic/ energy / relaxation and balance.

Takedown : A drill with with a staff held by n°2
N°1 grab n°2 anyway he wants.
N°2 tense only the part being in contact with n°1 N°2 put a small inclination on the hand holding the staff and follow the direction of the staff to the end.
Quite hard to do properly because “tensing” is hard to do and maintain while moving ; but you will get the general idea in a few try.
Check the result and compare with “traditional” martial art : the muscular chain is the same and relaxation the key.

As for ressources :
- “Beyond the physical” ; a dvd by michael ryabko presenting “power” in combat.
- 2 video from the gazillion of youtube : It is subtle but in the first video n°2 is moved by tension ; in the second video n°2 become more and more relaxed. And it is done on purpose.

About “sensation” / “presence” ; with a nice explanation :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b79hd8PAa_I
About knife disarming, (N°1 is moving slowly : the master have to react at the same speed, and n°1 definitely doesn't want “real” speed reaction).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12myWKYV04A
you have the link to the store down this one.

Just a word of caution :I’m not into “buying” dvd, merchandizing, and I definitely don't have necessity for “real efficiency” in my day to day life (so called “necessity” is usually “fear” disguised, unless you have to work in a dangerous job.)And am NOT in the camp of “only systema is right” because a lot of what is showed can be see in aikido or other traditional martial art (if you manage to find the proper teacher).
​​​​​​​For me martial art are really a path into deep meditation (amongst other).
Djalal-Pierre Rothan, modified 1 Year ago at 12/2/22 3:44 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/2/22 3:44 AM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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ouch sorry for the format, it doesnt want do to do the line at the end of paragraph !
Hector L, modified 1 Year ago at 12/3/22 11:52 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/3/22 11:52 AM

RE: Internal martial skills, internal power and jhanas

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I've done aikido, judo and jujitsu (both Hawaiian and Brazillian).
However, recently I found myself unintentionally having to defend someone from a real world attacker and
I found that this time round I had a lot more equinamity about the situation and was reacting with very calm assesment rather than emotion.

Doing the jhanas didn't affect the physics much but it definitely helped in situational awareness and de-escalation.

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