Meditation is a helpful tool that can assist the karateka in sharpening mental focus. It increases self-awareness and helps to reduce stress. It improves the circulation and flow of ki throughout the body and thus improves both physical and mental health.
As far as competition is concerned, meditation helps the karateka to be able to clear the mind and focus 100% of one's attention on the opponent. Controlling one's thoughts is not an easy task. Clearing one's mind of all active thought is even harder. Meditation trains the mind to be able to clear itself of thought at will. The more one practices, the faster and easier one is able to clear the mind. When the mind is clear, full concentration and focus can be directed at the opponent's movements as well as your own offensive and defensive movement. Reflexive reaction becomes more responsive and "mental openings" in one's defense close up. Distractions are shut out and the spectators viewing the event are shut out. The unity between mind and body manifests itself. The state of "mushin" or "no mind" is attained. Meditation can also be used to reduce the pre-tournament stress that sometimes occurs right before a match. Stress manifests itself with the respiration and heart rate increasing even though you may be standing still or sitting. You may find yourself exhausted even though you have not fought yet. Meditation can assist you in removing this stress and calming your mind and body back to a normal state.
Meditation can be practiced by sitting with legs crossed on the floor with the back as straight as possible. The eyes are closed and the body becomes completely relaxed but for the muscles necessary to maintain the upright posture. Breathing should be show and steady. One technique that can be used to clear the mind is to concentrate only on the breathing. Count from 1 to 10 each time you take a breath and then count back from 10 to 1. With each breath a concerted effort can be made to relax a part of the body. One breath you can make an effort to relax the neck, the next the shoulders and so on. Another technique that can be used is to focus on an imaginary object in your mind like a single candle burning in the darkness of your mind. Eventually you will find yourself in a meditative state of mind. In the beginning it may take a long time to reach this state of mind. With practice, this state of mind will be able to be reached easier and faster.