Respect

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.

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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Thankful For Healthy Food

I eat.  A LOT.  And I eat really healthy foods, which may or may not be a little bit pricey, if in season at all.  

I feel blessed in so many ways, and for so many reasons…but I am immensely thankful that I am able to have foods such as scallops, shrimp, and fish every so often.  It matters what we put into our bodies and I’m grateful not only that I can have these things to begin with, but also for my better half, who both supports my clean regime, and who always manages to cook them so well.

Once upon a time I harbored and intense fear that no one would be “okay with” my nutritional habits or preferences – to the point it was debilitating. I was judged – often – for my choices, and was convinced I was somehow “too different” or “too difficult” as a result.  Fortunately, I’ve learned the error of my ways!

My body is ultra-attuned to certain nutritional guidelines.  That said, it isn’t because I imposed them ON myself (back when I had eating disorders, that is exactly what I did.  But, thankfully, not now.)  

In recovery by body decided what works for it…and what doesn’t.  I’ve gained a handful of allergies and intolerances, as well as symptoms when I don’t eat frequently enough – curious, but I’ve learned to honor and respect what my physiology is asking for.  It’s changed a lot over the years, and in recovery, and that’s okay.  

When I travel, my body is therefore never 100% – being at home allows me to stick to what works best, but that doesn’t mean I can’t (or don’t want to) go anywhere!  There are always healthy options to be found, so even if I’m not having my absolute “usual” I still can make solid choices, and set myself up for the best success possible.  (Frankly, I’d say scallops multiple times in one weekend is pretty world-class!)  

Blackened catfish and turkey

My goals are maintenance – I’m not looking to gain, neither to really lose weight.  I want to support my muscles and any physical activities I’d like to do, as well as to function as optimally – and comfortably – as possible.  That includes everything from sleeping, to energy levels, to a calm tummy!

Just because I am wired to work on a very specific blueprint doesn’t mean that I can’t live freely, and happily.  It takes a little bit of foresight and work, but I love being healthy, at a good weight, and feeling like I can perform well.  

As I’ve gotten older, I need more recovery, and sometimes even more food  – allowing ourselves to evolve and grow is a beautiful thing.  Appreciating the blessings and fortune we have just makes life all the more wonderful. ❤ 

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!

Thursday Flowers. . .

I went downstairs to pick something up the other day, and there was a nest with Autumn flowers waiting for me, with a note from my husband to wish me a happy Thursday. . .

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Since the day we met, his thoughtfulness has melted my heart – there is no gesture, large or small, that I do not appreciate fully.  

Love those in your life fearlessly, and with all you have.  Take any opportunity you can get to say

“thank you,

“I love you,” and…

“I appreciate you.”  

Life is precious…and far too fleeting…not to cherish what you have in every moment.

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There will not be a day so long as I breathe and live that I will not harbor an immense gratitude for everything he does, and all that he is…  And there will never be a day that I stop making sure he knows. Relationships may evolve in time, but love never has to lose its vibrant aura.  

 

10 Powerful Tips from Joel Almeida

I recently saw this article from Tiny Buddha, written by Joel Almeida, and it resonated very deeply with me.  I feel blessed to have experienced the hardships I have in relationships – alarming that may sound to some – because they has given me far more gifts than they have taken away.  

Being a better version of myself is a quotidian reflection for me, and a pursuit I have committed to for a lifetime. I make countless mistakes, have as many shortcomings as the next person, and feel as frustrated with human beings – strangers, friends, family alike – on a daily basis.  I fall victim to the dreadful habits of minimizing, justifying, and making excuses for everyone else ALL the time on top of it – one of the reasons I landed in such painfully damaging situations to begin with.  But, as a result of countless treatment methodologies, the understanding of what a healthy relationship *should be*…and the actual applications to myself came together.

ottmag.com

ottmag.com

I have a ton of growing yet to do – learning, retraining, healing, and beyond. . . But the moment I recognized that I deserved better than the horrors I had, things began to fall into place rapidly – conceptually, physically, emotionally, and REALLY... But having a healthy relationship after a lifetime of dysfunctional and abusive ones?  It actually isn’t as easy to navigate as you might think!  It has taken a lot of adjusting to even allow someone to do something nice for me (my incredible fiancé can attest to the struggle – it’s real! 😉 ) 

It matters to me that our love flourishes, that he feels good about himself, and that he knows, no matter what, that he can always rely on me.  For that to happen, I have to also work on myself – whether in loving, forgiving, respecting, or being brutally honest, I owe myself as much as I do my significant other.  It is only then can I really give all of myself. 

A relationship itself is also work – not work in the sense of utter drudgery, mind you!  But it takes nourishing, understanding, and compassion.  Relationships are built on trust, respect, and appreciation.  With those things in place, it becomes and endless wellspring of love.

I loved the points Joel touched on – I’ve never come across his work before, but I really appreciated this piece.  Life is so fast paced and crazy that it’s easy to lose sight of things – or control of ourselves!  I know I’ve not always reacted in the way I’d like to, but I take each failure – in sports, school, work, relationships, whatever! – as an opportunity to learn and grow.  

Gothiness – In Love With Halloween

It is my favorite day, Halloween. I’ve said it more than Scheherazade (though admittedly not with my life – nor freedom – hanging in the balance.)  Still, the ardent affections burrowed deep enough within my heart to remain all this time later.  Halloween in the Northeast in particular is divine – The fragrances in the air intoxicate, the colors seduce, the sounds enchant the ears – there is no aspect of it – neither linearly, nor in the peripheral – that does not send me reeling.  

For many years I wrote an annual Halloween “poem” of sorts – my boss at the time anticipated it harkening the 31st with such eagerness that I would be asked in advance when the e-mail was coming…nevermind that looming Shoe Show deadline! I’d have a new “story” each year – sometimes reflections on a trip I’d taken that reminded me of the season, or the general atmosphere itself, and the command upon my senses. 

I love Hallow’s Eve so much that as a child I was certain it would be the only day on which I’d be married – no matter the calendar year may not oblige with a Hallowed Saturday… To me, there was nothing better than the idea of saying “I do” when I felt most in my element. 

For a while there – and, at this juncture, I will spare the novel – I settled on being solo.  Independence always suited me – I like my space, and neither have I necessarily wanted to be beholden to anyone, nor anyone to me.  But in 2015, the stars aligned in such a way as to change my journey forever.  I knew that moment – even before we spoke a word to one another – that I would rather live my Life with him in it.  I am both humbled and thankful those celestial orbs adhered to their errand so devoutly (lest love have traversed my path only but for a moment…or missed it entirely.)  

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There are countless reasons that I love, but one – no small detail – is that I am accepted and loved for precisely who I am.  That odd amalgamation of goth and glitter…the vampishness, vulnerabilities, empathetic heart, and unconventional predilections towards all things Ninja… 

When I said I wanted to be married on Halloween, I was not only not met with resistance but was asked “on which day does it fall?”  This year…a Monday, sad to say.  But the Saturday before?  Ahhh…

As anyone planning a wedding can attest to, venues book terribly far out.  With about seven months (a hair less), and a contract out on the day I desired, I am convinced the stars – once again – conspired in our favor.  When I was told the day was ours he said “I thought you might have fallen over when you heard him say we could have the 29th!”  I nearly did. 

Not everyone has the luxury of having the date they *may so desperately* want.  And though I am certain two hearts are in true love to be committing in marriage, not everyone is quite so open-minded.  I feel blessed beyond words that I am in a partnership where I – and all my curious conventions (and two black cats!) – are embraced fully.  No two human beings boast edges as smooth as puzzle pieces – what matters, though, is that there is respect, support, and love in spite of our eccentricities (and less than lovely moments.)  

I recognize that Halloween isn’t necessarily the most traditional, nuptially-flavored day…but it was the one I had my heart set on. That I could choose it – indeed as a celebratory time for each year going forward – is special gift in my mind.

For as long as I can recall, my go-to phrase (and story-end sentiment) was “haunt like you meant it.” Well…while you are at it, love like you mean it too – because it is on that precipice where the most profound things occur, and when you suddenly realize just how OKAY it is to be you.