I recently picked up Zen In The Martial Arts, out of curiosity. Under the guidance of such celebrated masters as Ed Parker (the man who taught Elvis Presley) and the immortal Bruce Lee, Joe Hyams vividly recounts stories from more than 25 years of experience in the martial arts.
Hyams demonstrates to readers how the daily application of Zen principles not only developed his physical skills, but gave him the mental discipline to control his personal problems related to self-image, work pressure, competition, etc. I’ve read a number of martial arts philosophy books in addition to books entirely about Zen and I found that this book speaks strongly to martial arts students as an introduction to the topic. It communicates Zen concepts in an anecdotal fashion that would help students make sense of it all in the context of their training.
I’ve always been a firm believer that the martial arts isn’t simply about achieving physical mastery of fighting system. Equally, if not more, important is mastery over yourself. This is an ongoing process that comes from the various personal struggles one must face as they develop in their martial arts training. The internal skills that students pick up in the pursuit of self-mastery not only apply in their training but to every aspect of their lives.
This is why I heartily recommend this book. It gives dozens of excellent examples of Zen concepts applied for one person’s own self-betterment. That being said, each person’s experience in the martial arts is entirely unique. It is up to you to find your own applications of Zen within your own training. This book, however, will point you in the right direction.