Circumstances may pull you down – in the ring, or out of it – but no one says you have to stay there…
Martial Arts are a way of Life, no matter their origins, their focus, their techniques. At their core, they are – heroically and with grace – brimming with precious words of wisdom. . .ones which transcend all temporal confines.
That everything begins, and ends, with respect is not relegated to the Arts, but to Life, our relationships, our interactions, and ourselves.
To maintain respect in the face of adversity and calm alike is at the heart of being a warrior. . .and a solid human being. Like integrity and honesty it is a key pillar of a fulfilled, happy, and healthy Life.
The 7-5-3 code is essentially an amalgamation of ancient principles, heavily influenced (and beginning with) the heroic, notoriously stringent way of life – or Bushido – of the Samurai. The moral codes and principles by which these fierce warriors lived continues to guide many modern-day Martial Artists, whether taken as the 7-5-3, or in segments. The values within, however, can apply to all people in all walks of life – they are scarcely relegated to the Arts and I daresay the world would be a better place would that we all followed suit. . .
The 7-5-3 Code as a sum total purportedly originates with the Valente Brothers, three generations (same family) of Jiu-Jitsu practitioners who have learned from Grand Master Helio Gracie directly. Though I am a practitioner of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu myself, I confess that I’d not heard much about the family prior. That said, each of these points are ones which have been at the core of the five Martial Arts I have practiced (Hapkido, Taekwondo, Ninpo, Japanese Ju-Jutsu, Brazilian JiuJitsu (some Kumdo in addition)) in one way or another – they provide the framework and foundation not only for us as Martial Artists, but again as human beings.
7 Virtues Of a Warrior
- Politeness / Propriety
- Honesty / Sincerity
These seven virtues relate to the way in which we interact with one another, on the mats, or off, whether with training partners, strangers, coworkers, husbands, wives… For the Samurai, there was an intense focus on how one conducts oneself, the values to which one would ferociously adhere, and the overarching respect and appreciate of life in all circumstances, with all people. The maintenance of moral integrity was at the heart of the code, strengthened further by honest, and loyal conduct. The Samurai were infamous for their fearlessness, and though known for their strength in battle, they asserted a level of compassion and kindness towards fellow man.
5 Keys To Health
- Rational Nutrition
- Sensible Exercise
- Efficient Rest
- Proper Hygiene
- Positive Attitude
The five keys to health are incredibly important for everyone, particularly the modern-day Martial Arts practitioner or athlete. Without the proper fuel, our bodies will not function at their best. Without rest, and a positive attitude irregardless of the circumstances, we cannot meet the challenges with our full capabilities. Hygiene is an incredibly important point not only for our own health, but out of respect for our fellow training partners. And sensible exercise requires that we push ourselves in a healthy way, knowing our limits, respecting our bodies, and backing off when necessary (often much harder said than achieved when dealing with athletic minds!)
3 States Of Mind
- Zanshin – Awareness, Alertness, Preparedness
- Mushin – No or Clear Mind
- Fudoshin – Emotional Balance
The three states of mind are the principles by which to guide our personal, inner relationship. These states not only preside over our physical bodies, but are at the core of the Arts which we practice – in some cases they feel like elusive, impossible concepts, but they are the endpoints to which we strive. In fact one of them was at the heart of Hatsumi Sensei’s Ninpo theme this year!
Zanshin requires that we are always alert enough to accurately assess our surroundings, relying heavily on our muscle memories – this is where the hard training, and meticulous repetition comes into play. Mushin, a key theme among the Ninja for 2017, is, in essence, the ability to clear the mind of all techniques, to flow with the opponent’s movement, and to create. Fudoshin is the emotional balance which we all endeavor to reach – with the turbulence of life, this balance fluctuates, tipping the scales to one end of the spectrum, and perhaps back to the other. It takes hard work and self-reflection to achieve this balance, but the goal is ever-present.
Taking It Together
These 15 principles are – for all intents and purpose – ancient ones. They are neither novel, nor particularly difficult to understand. But to achieve these 15 singularly, or particularly in harmony, is a skill in and of itself – the pursuit of these virtues is a noble one, and gives a structure to Martial Arts practices, but also to life. These are the foundations on which we can build our relationships with ourselves and others, on which we can build our strength of body and mind, and the principles that govern our mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being.
I have to say, Mr. Rogers, you let me down!
The streets here are not exactly tame, depending on the block – happy-go-lucky mindlessness and handing out “hi, neighbor!”s is a surefire way to get in (possibly serious) trouble.
When I began Martial Arts, it wasn’t because I wanted to be “badass” or that I thought I’d need to fend of a gaggle of muggers, necessarily. I was a lifetime athlete – primarily a performing one (ballroom dancing, figure skating, ballet, and the like) – and I wanted to up the ante. I wanted more power, newness, and something that combined athleticism with artistry (which figure skating, for one, manages by default.)
That said, I was enamored of Martial Arts in general from an incredibly young age. It had nothing to do with being a female, by the way – I’ve never felt that I couldn’t achieve the same thing the “boys” did, and in sports the men were more my idols than the women. The grace and fluidity were something my body already knew how to create inherently, but the power and strength of male athletes inspired me on a whole other level.
Martial Arts movies were common enough in our household – older brother = badassery. And watching them, in and of themselves, made me feel empowered – imagine being able to do those things, and hold my own, for myself?!
I didn’t start (Taekwondo, Hapkido, dabble of Kumdo) until the third decade of Life, but I still don’t think that was “too late.” My current Arts are Ninjutsu / Ninpo, and Brazilian Gracie Jui-Jitsu. I feel that the combination of the former, and being in a new, and much tougher city than those I’ve lived in before, has prompted me to develop and even stronger situational awareness. I notice my surroundings, but also am more attuned to the details – how someone is walking, if they are carrying something, if they look in shape and strong, or less able. . . It’s sort of just “there” and it makes me feel even more thankful for my training.
I can’t say whether or not my muscle memories would kick in – I certainly hope so – but I definitely know I am far more prepared than the average person, and have some chance of submitting, escaping, keeping my life. I’m also more aware in general, a direct result training with people, so I can possibly be more proactive.
It may not always be a “beautiful day in the neighborhood” much that my happy-empath spirit would like it to be. Mr. Rogers let a little me down but I picked up the slack and have trained my ass off in the last ten years just in case a “hi, neighbor” leans a little too hostile for my taste!