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jxa127's Blog Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 02-09-2005 01:53 PM
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 109
Comments: 18
Views: 196,884

In General Being a Christian and studying aikido... Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #15 New 05-30-2003 09:19 AM
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.
Views: 1544 | Comments: 3

RSS Feed 3 Responses to "Being a Christian and studying aikido..."
#3 06-11-2003 12:05 PM
jxa127 Says:
Thanks for the comments, guys. It's great to get some different perspectives on this issue. Regards, -Drew
#2 06-03-2003 12:32 PM
You bring up some interesting points here. I think that, for one thing, it's excellent that you even mention this aspect of Jesus's teachings, as many people simply don't mention it. I think that one of the things that I found very influential to the way I train was something that I've read in Saotome sensei's books, and my instructor has mentioned it as well. To paraphrase, one of the teachings of the founder is that you are not only protecting yourself with Aikido, you are protecting the other person. You have to look out not only for your own well-being, but theirs as well. This doesn't just mean "don't break their skull open," it was meant as something more along the lines of the negative Karma that killing or injuring another adds. You have to stop the other person from accumulating that negative Karma, as well. I know that you most likely don't believe in the concept of Karma, but you don't need to. In this sense, Karma is a metaphor for negativity in society, in general. If you can learn to truly protect others, including your family AND the guy trying to break into your house, than you've acheived something far greater than the man who learns how to use a pistol and kill the person trying to break in. Jesus wanted the same thing that O Sensei wanted, the reduction and control of your own ego so that you could serve others. It doesn't mean that you really have to sell your house, just use your resources for the greater good, not only your own. If Jesus could have studied Aikido, I think he would have. I know that sounds really silly, but honestly the goals are very much the same. Now you got me thinking... I'd love to talk about this more, you may want to consider starting a thread in the spirituality section. Just a thought.
#1 05-30-2003 02:10 PM
Veers Says:
More specifically, his admonition to "turn the other cheek" has always given me problems.
This was one thing I considered before starting aikido...and I came to this conclusion (or God sent me to it)... The turn the other cheek thing is a gesture of humility. The whole serve your enemy and by doing so you will put coals of fire on his head thing. When it comes down to it (it being direct conflict), aikido, if you let it, can be turning the other cheek...or it can not. Like pretty much anything, there's more than one way to use aikido. I should write an essay on this...essays always get me thinking... ~Veers

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