Harmonizing the Emotions
© By Thomas Richard Joiner
DEC / 2013
SHIHAN THOMAS JOINER
NOV / 2013
The threat to our personal safety and the safety of our loved ones that is a result of the pervasive crime and violence that has become a permanent feature of modern society, can make the difficult task of balancing complex emotions like the latent aggressive tendencies needed to survive in a dangerous world and still maintain an abiding reverence for life one of the greatest challenges that we face as human beings and martial artists. Let’s face it, self restraint is not always easy, sometimes you just want to put your foot in someone’s ass. This basic respect for one’s fellowman that is the bedrock of a fundamental sense of humanity and universal kinship is especially important for those of us who as a result of martial practice have acquired the ability to seriously injure or kill another human being.
Throughout the histories of both Japanese and Chinese martial arts an important strategy for maintaining one’s emotional equilibrium has been the simultaneous study of the arts of war and healing. As recently as a few generations ago, the combined study of martial and healing arts was an integral part of advanced training based on its proven ability to elevate the spirit and help subordinate the latent aggressive tendencies that are an essential component of the combat mindset.
In addition to the antidotal effect that the “dual practice” has been known to have on mitigating violence and increasing ones sense of respect for humankind, our martial forbearers believed that combining the two elements also provided more practical benefits. Among the rewards that they attributed to the combined practice is the acquisition of basic medical skills that included instruction in the use of herbs for maintaining a healthy body, increasing vital energy (chi), conditioning one’s hands, and healing injuries. Additional benefits include anatomical insights associated with point location which is fundamental to acupuncture and acupressure that can also be used for attacking pressure points in arts such as Ju Jitsu and Dim Muk. It is widely believed that the advanced anatomical/physiological knowledge that is gained from such practice elevates or otherwise improves one’s art.
It has also been reported that the integration of the two arts also increases one’s sense of “simpatico” (sensitivity to the pain and suffering of others) a characteristic that seems to be inherent to healers and healing.
The psychodynamics that occur as a result of the conjoined practice is marked by subtle refinements in one’s temperament as well as their approach to practicing their art that is directly attributable to the integrated practice, and cannot be experienced when one art is practiced in the absence of the other.
The alchemy that’s set into motion when equal emphasis is placed on becoming both warrior and healer occurs because philosophically their combined practice harmonizes the primal elements by conforming to the universal yin yang theory of opposites in balance, a principle that is exemplified when (yang) hard martial arts is in balance with (yin) soft healing arts.
Despite the conjoined practices cosmological implications and its proven ability to enhance the skills of its practitioners, most contemporary martial artists, especially those who train in non-traditional styles or whose focus is on combat sports like mixed martial arts, remain unconvinced of the ancient practices functional value. Consequently, lingering suspicion about its nonessential nature has prompted “modernists” to add it to a growing list of traditional practices that failed to make the cut, and for all intents and purposes have been cast aside making them likely martyrs that are in danger of being blown away by the cyclonic winds of change.
Only time will tell whether or not the dual practice’s exclusion as part of the training regimen of the modern day warrior is merely a temporary repudiation of the ancient tradition that is limited to the current generation… or whether the time-honored practice will eventually become a permanent part of martial art’s forgotten past and forever fade into the annals of history.
Speaking as one who subscribes to the notion that helping and healing creates counteractive energy that helps mitigate the negative energy that is created when we injure or kill, and who not coincidentally practices both healing and martial arts. I can honestly say that the integrated study of the two arts has afforded me unforeseen physical mental and spiritual benefits.
Whether you are thinking about unifying the two arts for practical reasons or the intangible benefits to one’s psyche that are reflective of the integration of the two practices, I highly recommend integrating martial and healing arts for anyone who is seriously interested in experiencing first hand the reasons why in generations past combining the two arts was an integral part of the martial arts curriculum.
Thomas Richard Joiner, Shihan 6th Dan Chinese Goju Martial Arts
Thomas Richard Joiner, author of the Warrior as Healer, Blending Botany and Budo, and Chinese Herbal Medicine Made Easy, is a Shihan sixth-degree black belt in Chinese Goju Martial Arts and has received certification in Tien Tao Chi Kung, as well as being a graduate of the Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine New York City. He has conducted advanced study in traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture at the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences in Oakland, CA, trained in Chinese Herbology under Dr. Lai Fu Cai as well as studying at the Institute of Chinese Herbology in Berkeley, CA. Thomas’s martial arts education includes training in Wing Chun Gung Fu with Sifu Ralph Rodriquez, Sifu Lee Moy Shan and the late Grandmaster Moy Yat. In addition he has studied Taoist Esoteric Yoga Micro-cosmic orbit meditation, Iron shirt Chi Kung and Seminal Ovarian Kung Fu with Mantak Chia, as well as training in Chinese Goju Martial Arts under Grandmaster/Shidoshi Ron Van Clief.
Sensei Joiner’s books provide extensive insights into the centuries-old practice of incorporating herbs into your martial arts training as well as making available prescriptions for many of the legendary and most highly regarded formulas used in Asian Martial Arts for treating injuries as well as enhancing one’s training.
Sensei Joiner has been a practicing Chinese Herbalist for nearly two decades, and is the founder of an online mail order company Treasures From the Sea of Chi which specializes in traditional Chinese herbal formulas used in martial arts training. If you would like more information on herbal practices in the martial arts, Sensei Joiner can be reached at his company email: firstname.lastname@example.org.