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Connection between Âyurveda and the Martial Arts

Ayurveda means literally the 'science (Veda) of longevity', It has a divine origin..  It was originally a Hindu medical system and had its beginnings more than two and half thousand years ago in the sixth century before the present era (or if you prefer BC.). Ayurveda soon developed outside of the strictly Hindu community and was taken up and adapted by Buddhists and other religious groups. It has survived until the present day and is in fact undergoing a renaissance both in India and throughout the western world, which sees it as a necessary compliment to the Clinical model.

Ayurveda developed at about the same time as Buddhism and Hinduism and replaced earlier ideas on disease and Healing that were written down in religious texts such as the Atharva Veda. Until Ayurveda came on the scene, disease was usually explained in terms of possession by various demonic disease entities. This earlier 'system' was perhaps successful because disease was less frequent. But with the growth of cities and a more settled way of life, new diseases arose and as a response a new medical system was needed.

The warrior god Indra has an earthly son called Arjuna. Arjuna is the archetypal martial artist and participated in the long and bloody war that according to Indian tradition marks the beginning of human history. His story is told in the epic poem the Mahabharata. In one very suggestive episode, Arjuna is forced to hide his identity and is able through his physical skill to hide his masculinity and assume the form of a eunuch. This episode has always reminded me of the supposed ability of some male martial artists to raise their testicles into their abdomen and thus protect them from injury. But be warned, although Arjuna eventually recovered his masculinity his was permanently barred from assuming the role of King. [As a Eunuch Arjuna taught dancing - another important link with Martial Arts]

Another more obvious, connection between Âyurveda and the martial arts comes through its doctrine of vital points. It is perhaps more well known that Indian sexology describes a system of erogenous zones (candrakalas in Sanskrit) or points of arousal. These points are enumerated in texts such as the Kama Sutra and Ananga Ranga, erotic texts which take many of their source ideas from the medical tradition. However perhaps less well known is the counterpoint to the erogenous zones ; these are the points of vulnerability or marmas. Sushruta, who was an ancient surgeon who lived about 2000 years ago, identified about 140 marmas and some of these have been matched with corresponding pressure points in jujitsu and other martial arts. The following diagram, taken from a recent translation of Sushruta's medical textbook, shows some of the important marmas in the arms and legs.

Martial arts tradition has it that Buddhist missionaries traveling from Indian in the first few centuries of our era took with them some early forms of martial arts, ideas that became the precursors of the Chinese and Far Eastern variations. There is therefore a direct link between the surgeon Sushruta, whose work was widely studied by Buddhists and the highly developed system of pressure points and meridians. The terms may have changed but the underlying concepts of Ayurveda and the fighting arts of Asia are surprisingly similar.

Ayurveda is based on Hindu texts which prescribe proper breathing, nutrition, meditation and aroma therapy in a manner that involving the interrelationship of the mind, body and spirit. Disease occurs from uncorrected imbalances caused by stress, poor lifestyle choices and poor diet.

Yoga is a sister science to Ayurveda and includes natural preventive measures to help ensure good health, happiness and longevity. The eight limbs of yogic practice include: regulation of the nervous system, discipline, cleansing, postures, concentration, contemplation, the awakening of awareness, and the state of perfect equilibrium. Yogic practice allows optimum energy flow that has preventive and curative value.

Reiki is a ancient Tibetan Buddhist healing art using the "laying on of the hands" that claims incomparable simplicity and powerful results. Reiki (Japanese for "Universal Life-Force-Energy") was re-discovered and proselytized by Buddhist Mikao Usui in the 1800's. Reiki practitioners must receive the "attunements" directly from a teacher who has also received the "attunements" and training. A Reiki healer uses touch to convey warmth, serenity and healing through the flow of Chi (Prana) energy. According to Diane Stein, Reiki Master/Teacher, Reiki energy is holistic claiming to heal the body physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.