The Martial Mindset

Developing the Habit of Discipline

By Paul 'Batman' O'Brien
B.A., N.C.E.H.S., Dip. Acu., Adv. Dip. OBB, Cert Clin. Med. Pn1, PN-SSR, PN-NCA, M.AFPA, M.ETCMA, M.C.Th.A.

The Martial Mindset is what I explained to a friend who asked where I get the motivation to train in the martial arts, why I train every day, why I won't take a day off, no matter what's going on. And how they could be like that, the type of person that doesn't miss a workout, or makes every Yoga class. The truth is I don't need motivation, that implies I had any sort of choice. I don't training is part of who I am. I honestly cannot see a reality where it isn't. The trick you see is in self identity. 

Each of us has several "egoic labels", quick definitions by which we see ourselves. Marketers, including myself make use of these terms to pre-select an audience, they are extremely powerful.  They are nothing short than the terms we use to identify ourselves - they are words through which we shape our reality. Words like, father, mother, son, daughter. Often we define ourselves through a career; entrepreneur, author, actor, doctor, lawyer, teacher. Sadly we often create labels of negative self fulfillment: unlucky, lonely, unhappy, fat, ugly and so on. 

Take a moment and ask yourself, what your labels are. How do you define yourself.  

"He Who Knows Others Is Wise. He Who Knows Himself Is Enlightened."

- Tao Te Ching

The reason I need little motivation to train is because one of my most powerful egoic labels is 'martial artist'.  That is how I fundamentally see myself. It's an inherent part of who I am and thus I act in accordance with it. This is the martial mindset.

If you tell yourself that you are weak, clumsy, lazy - you will act in accordance with that. You will shape your own mythology and inhabit the role you have made for yourself. On the other hand, if you consciously choose to develop the adoption of different egoic label, powerful, strong, independent, fit, you will act in accordance with it. But you have to be honest with yourself. 

If you find there are some helpful ones there (I have several such as work-a-holic, chocoholic etc) look to replace them with more productive and positive egoic labels. For instance I overcame my chocolate addiction (I haven't had chocolate in any form in so long I can't remember the last time I had it) by expanding my martial artist egoic label. 

Developing the Martial Mindset

A martial artist is to me disciplined. I couldn't be much of a martial artist if I couldn't say no to chocolate or unhealthy food. After all - 

Musashi himself once said; 

"Do not pursue the taste of good food." 


“If you wish to control others you must first control yourself”

To my mind, indulging in chocolate and poor nutritional choices illustrates a fundamental lack of discipline. Once I made that connection it became remarkably easy to leverage that into demolishing my chocolate and cheesecake habit and develop the martial mindset. Do I still want them, absolutely, but I don't indulge in them. And doing so is an opportunity to demonstrate my resolve and discipline, to be the martial artist I see myself as. 

Kaibara Ekiken recognized this too, when he wrote...

Part of developing a mindset that is capable and disciplined is first choosing to identify those two traits as inherent part of who you are. And then, at EVERY opportunity act in accordance with those traits.

  • What would a disciplined person do if offered cake?
  • If offered the opportunity to train etc?

Then do that.

And do it in every instance until it becomes habit. This is the martial mindset. 

If you want more information on Samurai mentality and how it applies to fitness, nutrition, muscle/strength building and weight loss, you should check out my Slim in Seconds Program - The Secrets of Martial Arts Masters & Ancient Chinese Medicine; A 6 Week Solution to SQUEEZE out YOUR Fat!

You've been reading about the Martial Mindset. Check out my other philosophical articles here.

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