Dan Couzens Martial Arts Explored, Self Development

bushido bristol martial arts sparring training. get focused get organised. dan couzensImagine if all we had to get right was our physical technique, training would be so simple. How good would we be?

My answer, not very good at all! Why? Because this is the challenge, and it’s something we need to learn to embrace and love. We have to organise our bodies, our minds and our lives in order to accomplish things.

Last Sunday was the National Grading’s which was a huge success; everybody there had prepared very well and the passion for the subject is very much alive and well. All the students from the Bristol Dojo passed, so well done to them.

Martial arts point to a way of organising your self. We all approach this differently but this is essentially the point.

So the body, with regards to combat is essentially disorganised to begin with, a beginner will usually not know their own body well enough to be able to summon the performance required to be considered an effective martial artist.

The same goes for the thinking process, in fact, the thinking process is often even more disorganised than the body; focus is about having a system in place for organising mental activity.


Try this focus and breath exercise, simply read the steps and then give it a try.


Look up from your screen and pick point directly in front of you.


focus on the smallest possible point and see that point with as much clarity and detail as possible. I call this, point focus.


Remain looking at the same point but begin to take in all of the surroundings, use your peripheral, expand out as far as you can go; I call this peripheral focus.


Keep your focus on the peripheral of your vision and combine this with breath work. Breathe slowly and comfortably, try to breath down to the diaphragm, and stay in peripheral focus for 10 slow breaths.


Bring your focus back to the smallest possible point and take 5 more slow breaths.

Step 6

Make observations of the exercise.

Of course some will feel or sense no effects at all, for others they will feel a calming influence especially when peripheral focus is combined with breath work. You may also perceive an increase in the intensity of your focus when you go back to point focus.

You may even notice a reduction in mental activity whilst doing the exercise, of course, like any exercise the more you do it the better you’ll get at it and the more observations you’ll be able to make.


The next way we can organise the body and the mind is by learning a new technique. It is very difficult to think about work, the mortgage, future plans or Brexit! whilst trying to learn martial arts…

I think this is one of the best reasons to train; Martial arts will re-focus your attention whenever you train, creating a mental gap in your week, physical fitness and it develops a skill that may be invaluable one day.

Dan Couzens