A post to explore people's thoughts on the Eastern Paths-Martial Arts connection.
I have been a student of the martial arts since 1993. However, I was interested in Eastern Paths long before that. So by the time I actually started physical training, Zen and other Eastern thought was already deep within my consciousness.
The underlying connection between the two (Eastern Paths and martial arts) is strong, historically. Despite the fact that many modern teachers play down that spiritual connection to make it more palatable to Westerners. Virtually every traditional martial art has a claim (or many claims) that divine inspiration lead their founder to the innermost techniques of the style.
However in practice, I quickly found that much of today's martial arts instruction seems to have abandoned the parallel search for wisdom that traditional training contained. Instead, focus has turned to winning tournaments and making as much money as possible off of the students.
I always find joy and a sense of accomplishment in my training, but I have yet to walk out of a dojo in all these years feeling like a new level of spiritual awareness was reached. I'm told it's there to be found, but no one seems able or interested in showing the way. While I'm proud of the rank I've attained, the fights I've won, and the awards that have been bestowed, in the end it feels no more enlightening than if I had chosen to play a sport instead.
Has anyone else developed an interest in martial arts from study of eastern paths? Or became interested in eastern paths after studying martial arts? If so, do you feel like you have progressed along your path of enlightenment because of it? Any other thoughts?