The Way of Flow: A Martial Arts Handbook for Living the Engaged Life

Daniel Sproles, University of Utah, USA

Theme: Mental training/interventions

Program ID: LEC-09B

Presentation: October 3, 2013 2:30 pm - 3:45 pm

Room: Jasperwood


Sport psychology has traditionally targeted enhancing objective performance such as the ability to earn Olympic medals and win games. Concerns over the costs at which performance excellence is pursued have emerged. Evidence suggests that performance excellence is often improved at the expense of personal excellence - the development of character strengths that contribute to optimal well-being (Miller & Kerr, 2002). However, by developing personal excellence alongside performance excellence applied sport psychology can be instrumental in supporting the attainment of the “engaged life,” a lifestyle suggested by positive psychologists as exemplifying optimal well-being. The engaged life is one which enables individuals to utilize their character strengths to meet the challenges they face and is characterized by a high occurrence of flow (Duckworth et. al., 2005). Drawing from a traditional martial arts (TMA) framework, the purpose of this presentation is to describe a psychophysical approach to character development that enables the attainment of the engaged life. A TMA handbook was created to outline how this task may be accomplished via the adoption of a psychophysical posture that allows each moment to be responded to with flow. TMA consist of two components: do and jutsu. Do represents ways of being (character strengths) that guide one’s actions and infuse them with meaning. Thus the corresponding section of the handbook educates readers on its theoretical foundations within sport psychology literature and TMA philosophy (for example, mindfulness, task orientation, and self-overcoming). Jutsu denotes ways of doing (bodily movements, meditation practices, and psychological skills) that develop the abilities needed to assist with overcoming one’s obstacles. This section specifies methods for cultivating centeredness, enhancing awareness, and increasing self-regulatory skills to facilitate the achievement and maintenance of flow. When physical activity incorporates both do and jutsu it is transformed into a vehicle that fosters physical and psychological well-being simultaneously.

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