Combat arts for recovery

Several people I have corresponded with through this blog have positive things to say about becoming a disciple of martial arts. One such person is Jane Alexander, who studied internal martial arts — ba gua, tai chi chuan and chi kung healing under Master Bruce Francis.

Another such person is Skyblue Cure. In one of his blogs (below) he explains why movement therapies are more important than “talk” therapies, although he believes that his emotional cure came first, allowing him later to benefit from martial arts. He cautions against martial arts for someone likely to suffer a psychotic break. I’m not judging the validity of martial arts for someone who has been diagnosed with e.g., schizophrenia, but it’s good to be aware that there are people who think MA has been helpful in their own particular case.

“Nowadays, I see psychotherapy is regarded as a “support system” and referred to as “talk therapy”. I see this in all the public information distributed by governmental mental health organizations in North America. It is obvious that the definition of the term itself has been modified and co-opted by the pharmaceutical companies in the selling of their drugs as the only solution for the human condition. “Psychotherapy” has become a support system to ensure “compliance” for patients to take their drugs.

There is the tendency to think of it as a means to protect the sensitive rather that to transform the sensitive into the tough.

Psychotherapy is more than “Talk”. Eclectic, confrontative, Gestalt, bio-energetic psychotherapy involves emotional expression and doing things with the body that changes the nature of emotional expression. This affects both the body and the emotions, is permanent in effect and is far more than the verbal “talk” function of the voice box.

Changing the nature of emotional expression can be done in many ways, martial arts being one of these ways. In my blog I have spoken about the benefits of taking the body/mind approach through other activities such as sound therapy, the Alexander Technique, Family Constellation Therapy. Another of my blog reader wrote of the benefits of Direct Confrontation Therapy. Then there is Low Expressed Emotion, another excellent approach to lowering the emotional tone in our everyday interactions. Martial arts are also an excellent way to work with issues of unresolved anger that create energy blockages.

So I was intrigued to learn through MindFreedom, that Corinna West, a former Olympic athlete, has created a program called Combat Arts for Recovery. Her program is one of 12 semi-finalists out of 55 entries to the Team USA grants competition. If chosen as the winner, her program stands to earn $12,000 to promote combat sports for mental health issues.

Please read what she says about the program, and consider voting for this worthwhile endeavor. 

Local sports clubs are providing scholarships to people with emotional difficulties. Mental health service providers can use advocacy skills to encourage their doctors to prescribe exercise instead of medication. This is a first step in my business’ goal of providing a mental health system so cheap that people in recovery can pay for it themselves. This will include almost all peer provided services and no medications. I plan for outcomes that should rival the Open Dialogue model in Finland where most people completely recover without even getting labeled.

Please vote for our program at You can vote once per day per email address until September 18. Right now we are a little behind and we need as many votes as possible. Once you’ve voted for Combat Arts for Recovery the first day it should just be three clicks the other six days.

For more information about the program or for more detailed voting instructions, check my website at:

Corinna West, MS, CPS
Creative Director, Wellness Wordworks
PO Box 172351, Kansas City, KS 66117