Training in many different martial traditions has given me an impressive arsenal of stretches, exercises, and drills to draw from for my daily practice. However, there is one seldom taught tool that all deliberate seekers of self-mastery, and not just martial artists, should be familiar with and make use of–meditation.
Part of walking the path of cultivation is actually putting in the time to develop the concentration necessary to manifest intent through technique. This is the essence of martial expression. Many will initially rely on emotion to manifest intent during practice but this not an ideal way to express intent. By relying on emotion the individual links the ability to manifest intention to the physical body and the active mind. Emotions are often directed by the needs or wants of the body and ultimately act as a limiting factor in the development of art. Lust for an outcome or fear of failure will often paralyze an individual and prevent proper action from being realized.
To properly develop the ability to manifest intent and apply it the the course of action, the seeker or artist has to act out of a state of equanimity and wisdom. An honest practice of meditation can help develop the ability to be relaxed yet alert and to be fully present in any given situation. Recognizing the proper course of action and knowing how to implement that course of action comes with practice that is, ultimately, rooted in ethical awareness.
In budo, correct technique is the starting point for developing concentration. Constant, honest practice coupled with sitting meditation and the feedback of a caring, knowledgeable teacher can help form a durable foundation for the development of art and spiritual growth.