I’ve been quite struck as of late by the absence of the middle mind in the world today. The middle mind, or chushin, is of great importance in martial arts practice; chushin teaches the martial artist the importance of avoiding extreme reactions and imbalanced thoughts. It also teaches the impartial consideration of all information when assessing a situation or making a choice. While any number of examples could be used to lament the ubiquitous extremism of our day, let us narrow our consideration to the martial arts world. For example, there are martial artists who practice only for health. In fact, the art of taichichuan, an ancient and effective martial art, is now touted almost solely as a method of exercise. On the other end of the spectrum, there are martial sports—those arts practiced only for competition and contest with little or no regard to health or personal development. The middle ground, which would be populated by those practitioners who train for health and self defense, is rather difficult to find in the current martial arts climate. As this type of narrow training is becoming the standard of the modern age, let us consider the specific ramifications of this splintered view of the martial arts.
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