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The 12 Steps from a Martial Arts Perspective

Written by Eric Fisher - Eric is a Counselling Therapist with Safe Haven Counselling and Author of: "The Martial Art of Recovery: Self-Mastery Practices to Subdue Addiction and Achieve Mental Wellness"


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Every day, we find ourselves navigating through a series of steps, whether we're aware of it or not. 

I'm not talking about walking, as that's on a different playing field. Step one: get out of bed. This may involve fumbling and stumbling. Step two: make the bed (or not). Step three: brush teeth. I think you get the idea. Steps are part of our everyday world. I can't go a single day without steps. It's inevitable that they'll come. 

Alcoholics Anonymous, an organisation that helps people in recovery from addiction involving alcohol, has devised a specific set of steps. There happens to be 12 of them. There are many types of AA-like groups around the world, helping folks who may be experiencing overeating, codependency concerns, and so on. 

I've edited the 12 Steps of AA, translating them from a martial arts perspective. The content below comes from my book, "The Martial Art of Recovery: Self-Mastery Practices to Subdue Addiction and Achieve Mental Wellness." I'll give a few sentences to describe each step. There's much that could be discussed with each step. I'm just skimming the surface with the descriptions.

Strap on the parachute. Here we go!



Step 1 - We admitted we were in acceptance over the powerlessness of our addiction opponent and that our lives had become off-balance without a proper defence.

We surrender to the robust nature of addiction and its consequences. Powerlessness is different than helplessness.


Step 2 - By closing the gap, we understood that a higher power greater than ourselves could restore us to a solid base.

A higher power, such as God, the universe, or nature, can help restore us to a place where we are not as distraught as we were in active addiction.


Step 3 - Choose to turn our trajectory and existence over to the care of God as we understand him.

There is a conscious effort to turn our will over to something or someone greater than ourselves. 


Step 4 - Create an exhaustive record of all our internal and external obstructions without fear impacting our assessment.

We create a personal inventory of everyone we've hurt, held resentment towards, manipulated, and character flaws that do not support our healing journey. An example here is an inappropriate expression of anger with examples.


Step 5 - Admit to God, ourselves, and another fellow human being the nature of where we have betrayed ourselves and others with these obstructions.

This can be done by talking with a priest, mentor, sponsor, or someone else what I've documented in step four.


Step 6 - I am entirely prepared to allow God to remove all these obstructions that did not benefit me.

I prepare to remove these barriers to connect with others and have a higher presence. This preparation is done in mind, body, and soul. An action step where preparation meets agency with the removal of these behaviours and attitudes that do not support my healing.


Step 7 - Humbly bowed to God respectfully while requesting He remove my personal wasted motions.

The step is done through prayer, meditation, and contemplation. We come in humility and leave with humility. We ask our higher power, whatever that may be, to remove those ways of thinking and behaving that no longer benefit us.


Step 8 - Devise a list of all the people I have injured in active addiction and find myself willing to make amends to them all.

A list is created of everyone we've impacted in a negative way during active addiction. Some may not be with us physically anymore. Some may live far away. Some may be down the street. Others may live in the same house.


Step 9 - I closed the gap by making direct amends to these people whenever possible, except when doing so would harm them, others, or myself holistically.

I offer amends to those in my life when it does not harm me or them. When unsure if an amend will be beneficial, I may need suggestions and feedback from a sponsor. The amendments can be made face-to-face, over the phone, by email, or in other ways. If the person has passed on, there are suggestions for this, like writing a letter to the person and then burning it.


Step 10 - Consistently take personal inventory of my recovery techniques and, when off-balance, swiftly admit it. 

I can do this step daily, reflecting on the day, and if I've said or done anything, I can apologise or rectify it. 


Step 11 - Journey through prayer and meditation to lessen our gap with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out in a disciplined way.

Through prayer and meditation, we come closer to our higher power and understand what we must do to align with our values.


Step 12 - Receiving spiritual revitalisation from these steps, we attempt to carry the message to those actively fighting the opponent and practice these techniques and concepts at all opportunities on our journey.

We spread the word to those in the chaos of addiction through our deeds and by expressing what we have seen accomplished in recovery. People aren't forced to accept or believe in someone's changes. It's simply showing through how I live my life. 


I hope you found this to be beneficial. In whatever you are going through, keep stepping up. Seize the day ahead of you!


-Eric Fisher


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