Martial Arts and Psychotherapy

Dr. Keith Witt Cognitive, Defenses, Health & Wellness, Intrapersonal, Kinesthetic, Perspectives, Psychology, Video, Witt & Wisdom: Live with Dr. Keith

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“That within which feels pain is itself pain-less; that which feels fear is fear-less; that which perceives tension is tensionless. To witness these states is to transcend them. They no longer seize you from behind because you look at them up front.”Ken Wilber, No Boundary

atch as Dr. Keith and Corey explore the fertile intersection between martial arts, psychotherapy, and integral living.

Martial arts, says Keith, is a form of somatic therapy — and psychotherapy can be understood as a form of martial arts. Both practices nurture similar qualities:

  • Transforming trauma into triumph,
  • Increasing physical operancy and confidence,
  • Becoming competent and attuned to others and multiple social contexts,
  • Improving breath, posture, attitude, and self-identification expressed through the body,
  • Creating a clear channel from Spirit to real action in the world.

Martial arts open the body to an organized flow of spirit through the system in specific focused thoughts and actions, while somatic therapies generally open the body so distress can flow freely and be expressed in open channels of emotion through the body (tears, voice, movement, shaking, etc.) These energetic flows help generate more embodied stories, beliefs, and schemas about self and experience with new emotional reactions to trauma memories and triggers, and integrating these two approaches helps align and attune our inner experience with the ever-present flow of self, culture, and nature.

Keith shares the deep wisdoms he has received from his own lifelong martial arts practice, and how those wisdoms directly inform his approach to his own psychotherapy practice and the various healing strategies he draws upon.

The 9 principles of Musashi’s Ichi Ryu Ni To (“One School, Two Swords”) school:

  1. Do not think dishonestly.
  2. The Way is in training.
  3. Become acquainted with every art.
  4. Know the Ways of all professions.
  5. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
  6. Develop intuitive judgment and understanding for everything.
  7. Perceive those things which cannot be seen.
  8. Pay attention even to trifles.
  9. Do nothing which is of no use.

Music by Justin Miles and Stuart Davis

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Suggested Practice

The 3-Body Workout

Huy Lam and Terry Patten

This series of movements (sometimes called Integral Kata) is a way to contact and exercise your three bodies: physical/gross, subtle, and causal.

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Dr. Keith Witt

About Keith Witt

Dr. Keith Witt is a Licensed Psychologist, teacher, and author who has lived and worked in Santa Barbara, CA. for over forty years. Dr. Witt is also the founder of The School of Love.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.