7 – 5 – 3 Code – For Life, Relationships, and Martial Arts

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

  • Rectitude
  • Courage
  • Benevolence
  • Politeness / Propriety 
  • Honesty / Sincerity
  • Loyalty

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.  

The Seven Virtues Of Bushido

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The Secrets Of Ninjutsu

Ninjutsu is probably one of my favorite Arts – its unique and unorthodox techniques, its higher-level, somewhat ethereal concepts, and the intriguing furtiveness captivated me from the get go.  It is, truly, an Art…and as a dancer and ice skater at heart, artistry is my language.

I’ve (rather sadly) seen traditional Arts dismissed as irrelevant – many modern-day practitioners want techniques that they can apply to modern-day scenarios.  Makes sense.  But therein lies the deception. Being rooted in a deep and complicated history also means that there are thousands of gems lying within the teachings.  Ones that have not only stood the test of time – when it was truly life and death – but ones that can also be very readily adapted and applied to “today.”

BudoRyoNinjutsu

One of the most interesting facets of Ninjutsu is the whole air of “secrecy.”  It sounds like an exaggeration but trust me, it isn’t.  Even within the walls of an official school, we find lots of “Henka,”or variations on specific techniques – the thing is, they are not always relayed in a straight-forward fashion, and sometimes are only hinted at.  For some Artists, that idea doesn’t go over (I can feel the eye rolls.)

While reading a Curriculum, for example, you might see images that don’t always jive with what the written directions are saying.  It ISN’T a lost-in-translation mistake either.  It’s completely deliberate.

The idea here is not that the “powers that be” of Traditional Ninpo are aiming to be unreasonably difficult, nor necessarily that they want to add some mysterious air that the Art can’t back up.  It’s more about the principle that learning is very much about DOing. Your Sensei is “passing down” the traditions, so to speak, and it drives home the idea that just reading a book, going online, or cerebrally understanding concepts ISN’T enough.  Martial Arts transcends any one approach – it takes grasping the fundamentals intellectually, absolutely, but the Art cannot be realized without being fully hands-on.

Taking it a step further, there are countless layers to the Art – you may learn a technique at one level, only to discover – throughout your own progression – profound jewels embedded deeply with in them…ones you neither could see, nor were capable of comprehending, in earlier training.

Ninpo embraces that we are not always ready for all of the “secrets” but that to develop our true “artistry” will take time, hard work, both finessing and breaking down the techniques until we can create our own. I suppose in a way many Martial Arts take that tact but here, some of the information is simply not shared until one has proven oneself to be ready.

The multi-faceted Ninjutsu is 1,000% NOT for everyone. It is acrobatic, intense, a little bit cryptic, unabashedly sneaky, and incredibly down-and-dirty at times.  Remember, the Ninja needed to survive…not stand on the battlefield until they – or you – were terminated (a la Samurai.)  

Ninjutsu focuses more on learning to keep distance, disabling, taking up an opponent’s space (including mental and spiritual) and getting away with one’s life.  To me, that’s the ultimate – I never began Martial Arts to “beat someone up.”  It’s an ART first and foremost for me, personally.  But, should I be faced with a true threat, I want the ability (or at least the tools) to disable, disengage, and get to safety.  It isn’t about “the fight,” but minimizing injury and getting away.  No ego.  No heroics.

Ninjutsu specifically will expose the student to everything from joint locks, small joint manipulations, grappling, takedowns, throws, sweeps, striking and weapons, to name a few.  I love that we have the opportunity to have such exposure, as many Arts are much more limited in scope. That said, the journey for each practitioner is unique, and built upon vastly different goals – in my own heart, I believe all Martial Arts are worthy and beneficial, markedly different they may be.

Martial Arts isn’t for the faint of heart – Ninjutsu isn’t “gentle” by any stretch, but it does teach us skills by which we can learn to keep ourselves – and our opponents – safe.  At the end of the day, however, we are taught that if we must overcome that individual, we must be prepared to do so.  Fortunately in modern times we don’t have to take it quite that far (certainly not in practice!)

Sometimes techniques hurt, sometimes they baffle, and other times they’re a little difficult to track down…. But each one of them – both the clandestine and the clear – are there should we be required to use them.  

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The Gratitude In Overcoming Difficulty

I can be far too hard on myself at times.  It’s landed me in precarious and damaging situations, so much so that I am not only more aware of it – all this time later in Life! – but, despite slipping, I am also more willing to work hard to get to the root of it.  (I’m blessed to have the support in so doing also – that makes a world of difference.) Doing so, however, means being more vulnerable, but it’s a necessary part of growth and overcoming hardship – it takes (often uncomfortable) work to get to the other side!  

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I’ve come a long way, and weathered storms like most human beings (after the age of three!) and it’s important I remember that… It’s important for all of us to remember where we have been, what we have accomplished, and that we have more strength than we think – because it’s so easy to forget and beat ourselves up. 

It’s also important to remember that we are works in progress. Recovery is a journey – It doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes you can sail through the day, and others requires a moment at a time. 

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What NEVER slips my mind, though, is how grateful I am.  No matter my flaws, my moods, my “humanness”…not a day goes by that I am unaware of how blessed I am to be healthy, and to be alive.  

I remember that time I fell down the stairs, and had trouble with my legs buckling every so often – my body was eating the muscle from the inside out and I could no longer support my weight at times. 

I remember waking up with eyes so swollen – one of many effects of hyponatremia – that I actually staggered back, not recognizing the stranger staring back at me.  I stared into a reflective abyss confused, terrified, and wholly unable to see myself.  What HAPPENED..?

I remember when getting coffee and adding something to it – even a drop of skim milk – felt like an impossible hurdle. 15 extra calories? Not then

So when someone offers a kind word – whether of support of my lifestyle or some result of it…or simply asks for health or fitness advice – I feel it profoundly.  At times I even want to cry because I am not only touched and honored, but I know what it’s like to NOT have health, to watch myself dying a slow and painful death. . .and what it took to get where I am today.  (I am, incidentally, choked up with tears even writing this now…all this time later.)

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To be active and fit is a gift I will NEVER take for granted. Not only in remembering my own experiences, but knowing those without the fortune to walk or speak or see. . .my eyes have been opened in a such a way that I cannot UNsee.

I am thankful to each and every person who takes the time to encourage, to ask for help, to offer a kind word – you motivate and inspire me just as much, if not more so.  I work incredibly hard at it, and try my best…but I fail plenty too.  

To know I’ve potentially lifted one other person – even if only temporarily – is an honor.  It reminds me that my suffering was not in vain, and that I can give so much more having known it.

With gratitude. . . 

 

Wearing With Pride

Little things make me so happy…like the victory my school won in getting a sweatshirt with their name on it.  The overarching brand generally doesn’t allow it, but I think we – the students – asked enough collectively that our instructor was finally heard by the powers that be.

We all have a sense of pride surrounding the quality of training, instruction, and of students who attend, so in a way this is like a show of support to sport the hoodie.  For a Martial Arts school, you always hope that’s the case – the friendships forged there are meaningful because you are in the thick of it together.  Even if you don’t hang out with everyone all the time, you know you can count on mutual respect and feedback when in the dojo.  Since it isn’t ALWAYS the case, it’s a special thing to find that kind of environment.  And as a result…wearing our name out an about puts a huge smile on my face. 🙂

BJJ Gracie Hoodie

BJJ Gracie Hoodie

More Martial Arts fun!

Healthy Dining Out

No matter what your goals, or what your needs, it is possible to go out and have a filling meal.  It doesn’t mean it’s a perfect cinch all the time, but it is possible (there are times when I do feel badly about wanting basic, clean options – but none of us should have to feel that way – establishments are there to provide a service and it IS okay to ask for what we want.  That’s the point!)

I like to eat volume, and I like to eat frequently – most restaurants don’t offer the kind of portions I need (sometimes leaving to order two sides of steamed veggies!) But…that’s always a possibility, right?  

Asian cuisines seem to be one of the easier options for those looking for more volume because often they do give larger portions (or at least will ask you if you want a full dish, or a smaller size…especially with takeout.) So Chinese or Japanese is often a good pick for me.

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My “usual” is miso soup, and steamed veggies and protein – lately I’ve gone the seafood route with shrimp and scallops, but steamed or boiled chicken works too.  The only sauce I use is soy, though when I can see the label in a store, I might buy dumpling or teriyaki sauce (Asian sauces can vary dramatically in nutritional stats and ingredients so with my sensitive system, I’d rather have the option to check.)

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Aside from being great for your digestive system, miso soup is healthier, and filling starter – it definitely takes the edge of a hungry raptor (me 😉 ) So much so that I ended up taking some of my dinner home with me – having some left is impressive!

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Nutrition (And Martial Arts?!) Humor – Choose To Live Healthy, by Oscar Ramos

I stumbled across this artwork, “Choose To Live Healthy,” by Oscar Ramos completely by accident (Behance, by the way, has a TON of badassery (and info about artists who create it.))

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone so vehemently illustrate the idea of sticking to a healthy diet. . . 

(C) Oscar Ramos (Behance - https://www.behance.net/piensapositivo)

(C) Oscar Ramos (Behance – https://www.behance.net/piensapositivo)

Or, maybe I should say, illustrate healthy foods so unapologetically leveling poorer nutritional choices with what appears to be a mix of Ninjutsu-esqu Martial Arts techniques… (I’ll admit, the body slam *is* a little WWE.)

(C) Oscar Ramos (Behance - https://www.behance.net/piensapositivo)

(C) Oscar Ramos (Behance – https://www.behance.net/piensapositivo)

I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t want to go head to head with that banana, see that corncob in a dark alley…or…heaven forbid…make the mistake of purchasing those sneakers. 

(C) Oscar Ramos (Behance - https://www.behance.net/piensapositivo)

(C) Oscar Ramos (Behance – https://www.behance.net/piensapositivo)

I mean…I don’t know… It makes ME (AND my popcorn) think twice.

Wildly humorous, a wee bit terrifying, and gorgeously rendered!

 

Clean Eating For The New Year

I’ve seen a ton of posts lately about clean eating shopping lists, so I’ll share a few sites also (below.)  It’s a great tool to have on hand when at the grocery store (which is best to go to when you aren’t hungry – I make that mistake all the time!) so I love that so many people are sharing their own versions.

Clean eating seems a lot more daunting than it is – it has always been a top “new year’s resolution” for people, but also one that seems to fizzle out.  Healthy is a lifestyle so it takes commitment – but it is more than achievable, and if you want it, you can have it!  

One of the best parts of seeing someone stick to their goals is when they start to feel “GREAT” again.  Not only do they have more energy, and feel physically better…the “looking better” (whatever that means in their terms – more muscle, maybe more toned, fitting into a smaller size etc) gives them worlds more confidence, and often a smile to go with it.  It’s awesome to see people feeling great in their own skin – everyone deserves that. ❤

But it is tricky sometimes, especially when it isn’t habit yet.  In that case, it helps to remember a few things (no one should ever have to feel discouraged!):

  • Little tweaks can make a BIG difference.  You don’t have to overhaul everything!
  • One derailment won’t cost you everything. Really, it won’t
  • Not buying it / having it at home is one of THE best ways to stay clean!
  • Portion mindfulness, and allowing yourself to digest is huge (I focus on this a lot for myself)
  • Meal prep can be a lifesaver
  • Surrounding yourself with like-minded folks is incredibly helpful
  • Be realistic.  You don’t have to drop a crazy amount of weight quickly – slow and steady is healthier, and far more achievable
  • Day at a time.  Works no matter the problem!

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Nothing feels as wonderful as being healthy – the results of taking care of yourself truly manifest in every aspect of your life. You don’t have to climb Everest either – little steps can add up to a LOT of success. 

For a few helpful shopping lists:

Pop Sugar Week 1 Clean Eating Shopping List

Ambitious Kitchen Free (Printable) Clean Eating Grocery List

Clean Eating Grocery List For Beginners by The Gracious Pantry

Pinterest (there are a multitude here!)

Eat Clean Snacks! (look it up for even more…)

To a happy, and healthy New Year!