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A major conflict that I see between aikido and Christianity is that, from what I've read in the Bible and been taught throughout life, Jesus advocated a life of service to our fellow man. Most importantly, he makes no distinction based on a person's station in life. If anything, he treated criminals and other "scum" with more compassion than rich people or religious officials. In other words, he turned the social order on its head.
This is all well and good for Jesus, but how do I emulate him? More specifically, his admonition to "turn the other cheek" has always given me problems. I want to be able to defend my self and my family if threatened, but that goes against my understanding of what Jesus taught.
I see aikido as a middle way. In some of our movements, we literally turn the other cheek when responding to a strike, yet we maintain our center and have control of the conflict. Ellis Amdur wrote two things at this site that I find particularly interesting.
The first is that studying martial arts is a hobby. This is not meant in any way to denigrate the seriousness of our study. He says:
My use of the word, "hobby," is not patronizing or belittling. It is an attempt to reduce things to a proper proportion. There are survival-based activities (farming) as opposed to enriching activities (gardening). When we have accomplished survival, we have the luxury to flourish and enrich ourselves as humans.
The other thing he said is:
I believe that aikido offers a lot of people the chance at experiencing something clean and pure -- a practice of relationship that holds all the opposites -- insecurity/confidence, aggression/peace, taking/giving, and metaphorically, at least, cuts a line right through the oppositions. I'm not saying that people always, or even most of the time, can do this. But I think of Yasunori Kuwamori or Shirata Rinjiro, and see that aikido can be a vehicle to this end. Not enlightenment. Simply a clean line through life.
Yes, aikido can be a very effective method of self-defense. But it is also a way to study relationships (or at least conflict in relationships). I feel a deep conflict between what I want in life (security, stability, and comfort for my wife and the family we plan to have) and what I believe Jesus calls us to do -- give up our possessions, serve other people, turn the other cheek.
I won't pretend that aikido offers the whole answer to this conflict, but it helps. I have a way of studying conflict and building responses that are neither direct opposition nor complete submission to my attacker. Those responses can help me to better serve my attacker.
These are some of my thoughts on how aikido and my faith interact. For the most part, though, I just practice and my concerns are a lot more mundane.