Our intention through this brief introduction and explanation of the martial arts to the festival- to those students and friends of the school whom we are grateful for and care for their wellbeing with sincerity, is to expand their understanding in something I have benefitted from and see others benefitting too.
It is this and also to allay any misconceptions about why we decided to integrate martial arts with yoga. It was not for the physical aspect, of building muscles- sculpting ones body to the perfect shape, or for the business aspect of drawing more people towards us (nor do I know if it would), and neither for a shock or surprise value to make things more "different". It is simply as we have tried to state, to expand one's capacity to a state of balance, using our body, energy, and focus as the means to it and be present.
The next Bliss Beat Festival which will be held July 9th- 12th, 2015 will see, among many other innovations, the inauguration of a corner dedicated to the Martial Arts. Yoga and martial arts find their origins in the same root, and the characteristics of a devoted and skilled practitioner of both disciplines, basically, are the same.
Yoga is a discipline containing a bit 'more Yin, martial arts is in general a bit more Yang. If we think about the fact that one of the motivations of those who practice Yoga is to search for an ideal balance between Yin and Yang, it is here in martial arts that can be a great way to find this balance. Martial arts, especially those of combat, puts the emphasis on the immediacy of the response, the relationship with fear that is always hard, and tends to correct our instinct to disunite when under stress and attack.
Practitioners of Yoga tend to spend more time preaching their interpretation of the philosophy, making the practice more mental and less practical. They then to "talk to the self" in this way, rather practicing on the mat. In other words, they spend more time explaining their experience with meditation rather than meditating.
The same can be said indeed of the practitioners of martial arts. The martial artist, without the "physical contact" can philosophize about the energetic effects and qualities for many days, but unless they are practicing the combat sport which brings with it the action, then it is a waste. To practice martial arts with contact can bring people to the present moment, through action and movement and without too much mental bubbles such as seeing spirit animals, flying unicorns or other silly excess which put too much emphasis on an exalted experience. When you put too much mental and intellectual emphasis on an esoteric and enlightened state, a kick in the mouth does wonders! It brings people to the realization that "enlightenment" is now, and some times it is painful, the point is to observe your center in each moment.
Martial arts, with a punch on the mouth, let's you know immediately when you have retreated to a fantasy or lost presence for even one fraction of a second. Then add, that they are at least from my small experience, a really, really exciting activity. After the first lesson, in my case, we are talking about Muai Thay, I wondered how I could have lived without it! Which is the same question I asked myself after my first Yoga lesson.