Meditation & the Martial Arts
The relationship between meditation and the martial arts is a multifaceted one: meditation is one of the practices in which martial artists engage in order to prepare for combat, while the physical exercises constituting much of the discipline of the martial arts might well be considered meditative practices. Michael Raposa, himself a martial arts practitioner, suggests there is a sense in which meditation may in turn be considered a form of combat, citing a variety of spiritual disciplines that are not strictly classified as "martial arts" yet that employ the heavy use of martial images and categories as part of their self-description.
Raposa, in this extraordinary alloy of meditation manual, historical synthesis, and spiritual guide, provides a fascinating approach to understanding the connection between martial arts and spirituality in such diverse disciplines as Japanese aikido, Chinese tai chi chuan, Hindu yoga, Christian asceticism, Zen Buddhism, and Islamic jihad.
What happens when spiritual discipline is appropriated for exercises meant for health or recreation? How might prayer, meditation, and ritual be understood as martial activities? What is the nature of conflict, and who is the enemy? These are some of the questions Raposa raises and responds to in Meditation and the Martial Arts, his rumination on the martial arts as meditative practice and meditation as a martial discipline.
Michael L. Raposa, Professor of Religion Studies at Lehigh University, is the author of Peirce’s Philosophy of Religion and Boredom and the Religious Imagination (Virginia).
Studies in Religion and Culture