The E-book Mind Training for Martial Artists by Neal Martin — whose martial arts background includes practice in karate and jujitsu — is written for the martial artist who wants to explore the mental element that is found in most classical martial arts systems. Moreover, any layperson who would like to try meditation can do so by starting with Martin’s book.
Martin’s book is not intended to be a deep review of meditation and mind training. Rather, he sets out with the modest goal of touching on some of the key aspects of mind training that any martial artist can use to supplement their training.
For example, his chapter on Zen Meditation is a quick overview of what meditation is and how it can benefit the martial artist:
…meditation enables one to calm the mind, clear it of mental disturbances and negative emotion and replace them with deep concentration and focus as well as the ability to be spontaneous in training. (p. 8)
Martin then expands upon his explanation by teaching the reader a very simple meditative exercise that focuses on breathing. In fact this lesson on breathing meditation is just an expansion of what is typically taught at the beginning and end of most traditional martial arts classes.
The chapters that follow Zen Meditation are based on what is becoming a Neal Martin formula: Simple, practical and effective advice. Martin essentially cuts through the metaphysical baggage and makes it so any martial artist can practice mind training without becoming a Buddhist Monk.
My favorite part of Martin’s book is also the shortest section: His brief treatment of moving meditation and kata or forms practice is excellent. In fact, while my seated meditation frequently slips, I have remained consistent in my moving meditation. Any martial artist who practices forms can take a given form or kata and slow it down. By doing this you turn it into moving meditation. Better still, certain martial arts have forms that are purposely designed to be moving meditation — Zanchen kata, mentioned in Martin’s book, is one such example. I do wish Mr. Martin would have expanded upon this section but I also have to acknowledge that my opinion here is being guided mostly by my love of moving meditation.
Martin spends the rest of his time covering such topics as visualization, focus, and how to control fear. Again, each section is easy to read, easy to apply, and certainly practical. Moreover I suspect that due to their lengths these topics must be favorites of Martin.
My criticisms of this book are few and hopefully constructive. First, Martin primarily targets the martial artist with this book. While it’s an excellent introduction to mind training for the martial artist I really do think that any layperson could use this book and would benefit from many of the chapters. In fact upon finishing this book I could not help but think of John Little’s The Warrior Within. With a little adjustment I think Martin could easily retool his mind training book to appeal to an even broader audience – much like Little did with the philosophies of Bruce Lee.
Overall I would recommend this book for anyone who would like to explore or improve their mind training. It’s an easy read, provides simple exercises, and has enough serious content to get anyone started on their mental journey.
Neal Martin's Mind Training can be obtained from at his website.