Those of you who know me, have often heard me say that the higher or even highest levels of martial arts is in healing. In the days of old, many Chinese doctors were also martial artists. In my point of view this is the most natural course for those who try to understand and practice a martial art fully. Now, it isn’t to say that every martial artist should be doctors, but naturally when we meet an old and experienced martial artist if he or she also has knowledge of injury treatment, herbs, or other method of healing, we automatically know that this person trained seriously and extensively knows the human body and they have fierceness when needed and compassion as well. Compared to one who only knows how to break the bodies of others, if they only know the aggressiveness and destructive cycle of a martial art, it feels that they have been lacking something, or that their knowledge had made them fierce only.
Many martial artists can spend their entire career of martial arts learning forms and repeating them over and over again, never desiring or even knowing there is more. Some understand martial arts as self-defense, and only study for that reason and can even perfect their destructive skills to an extent that they have confidence. Others practice for self-improvement and healing, but lack the ability to use it for defense. Some teachers only teach limited aspects of any that they know. In any case, if one wants to break through peaks and plateaus of training they will find that ultimately a martial art has a cycle of destruction and healing.
This is the first cycle that most people will learn in a martial art. Karate, TKD, Wing Chun, Eskrima, etc. all start with this cycle as it pertains to the need of self-defense and understanding the basic body mechanics and limitations of the human body. Most will spend years to perfect their techniques and skills in this area, rarely going into the healing aspect. Whether it is due to time constraints, lack of interest, or other reason, most are happy to stay at this point.
This is the second cycle of martial arts, usually reserved after the exponent has competence in their art. They know what hurts, where, and why, thus their ability to understand healing and to execute the proper methods is based on first hand experience and knowledge that has been accumulated after years of various injuries and healing. Healing can be in the form of self-healing, illness prevention, such as qigong exercises, meditations, etc. Many who are interested slightly in healing, will at least begin to practice qigong to improve their health. Others though, may also learn or be taught skills like bone-setting, herbology, energy healing, hilot, cupping, guasha, etc. These people are a bit more lucky, because they will learn things beyond basic first aid (RICE, CPR, etc.) There are many esoteric practices, ancient practices that are still applicable today.
Life as a Fighter/Healer
So, for me, going into the healing has been the start of the completion of the cycles. From the times I started to learn from various Chinese doctors, study TCM, herbs, and massage. I am finding that the cycles of martial arts has greatly enabled me to bring that understanding to work. The clients I work on, all have various issues, from stress, illness, injury, or what… but I can use my experience to work on them. Building a trusting relationship with some, then some also try various esoteric methods of healing/massage such as energy healing and qigong massage, or well known alternative treatments such as cupping, herbs, and so on. Each day brings more opportunities to learn more for myself and to help others. I practice martial arts still, but in both cycles, and a balanced practice.