The To-Shin Do Mindful Action Code is a powerful self-defense tool and one I’ve grown to appreciate more and more over the years. I’ve seen as a teacher how many youth and adults find it such a meaningful part of their lives. That, by itself, is enough for me to make sure it is a daily part of the Cincinnati Quest Center. Let’s face it, we can’t get through a day without having at least one or two of those codes that we ‘didn’t fully live up to’, and it’s great to remind ourselves we want to be a little better every day.
We also know that if we get too far out of balance with any of those fourteen, we can increase the risk of a self-defense encounter. Forget to ‘respect the property and space of all’ by bumping into the wrong person at the wrong time can be enough to cause a serious conflict. After spending a couple years working with troubled teens, I’ve seen firsthand how not paying attention to those codes can start a fight, and in some cases ruin futures before they’ve barely begun. Alas, many of those teens (and not a few adults I’ve met) could not understand the cause and effect of their actions.
But another self-defense value for the code has been in my mind for the past few years as I study more and more about the legal requirements and ramifications of self-defense. Standing up in front of your peers and re-affirming before each and every class that you ‘avoid violence whenever possible’, and making sure you live up to that statement, adds one more layer of protection if you ever did need a legal defense for your actions. Any lawyer that tried to argue you study martial arts to be ‘better at violence’ would have to contend with the Mindful Action Code that starts every class, the practice of verbal de-escalation, the sliding scale of responses we use to match the level of threat, and on-and-on … all the countless ways we do indeed practice avoiding violence whenever possible at the dojo. We ALSO practice how to deal with violence that cannot be avoided.
Of course, saying the Mindful Action does not absolve you of having to live up to all the other requirements your state may have surrounding self-defense. But it is one more layer to our self-protection skills. It’s a layer that I think is too important to skip.