It has been more than two decades ago when I first started identifying an issue that became a defining topic for my work in the years since then. In the lack of a better term we called it "Entkörperung", back in the days in Germany, when we worked on the violence prevention concept that defined our work for the police. Entkörperung roughly translates to "debodification", the loss of connection between body and mind in modern society. The pandemic of 2020/2021, bringing phyical distancing and life at home for prolonged times, made the problem even worse.
But what is the problem with modern society?
There are plenty of issues – mainly the state the human mind is in. To use a term borrowed from Far East philosophy, we have a problem with lack of Yin and Yang. The current economical and social system empowers greed and anti social behaviour and sets the wrong precedents: Competition and violence in many different shades.
Yet the alternative, like a pendulum, is a different extreme: Pacifism, veganism, ecologism don’t take into account that humans do thrive on competition and aggression is a part of the human soul. We need the connection between both, a society that connects the Missing Link between good and bad, light and dark, aggression and compassion, competition and empathy.
What creates that connection? Emotion.
But what empowers emotions? The body.
Physical experiences, touch and feel, human interaction, learning by doing. Our modern society neglects the body, treats it as a mere tool that has to function (fitness), last long (wellness and health) and has to look good. It’s not a source of experience, learning and growth of the soul. Instead, education focuses on rational knowledge and the economy focuses on number games – more profit. More wealth. More efficiency. Saving time.
The counter movement?
Modern Pseudo Spirituality
Religions (sadly including fundamentalism that gives the answers normal life lacks)
Political extremism (nationalism, racism, sectarianism)
Esotericism (movements opposing the “mainstream”, sadly often anti-science, occult or cultist)
In all this, the digital future arrived. A brilliant set of amazing tools that could connect, empower and educate people. But with the risk of making people addicts to colourful fake realities, instant gratification, constant media-consumption and last not least fake news.
The body! Humans need more physical experiences again, and even more so after the pandemic. And we need them to get in touch with the suppressed parts of their being and the Yin and Yang of their selves. That includes the awareness of the body. But also conflict and aggression, empathy and responsibility.
Martial Arts is the answer.