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Guilty Spark
05-30-2006, 07:24 PM
Hey guys. Glad I was referred to this site, looks great.

Probably a bit heavy for a first post but I've been waiting to find a forum like this for a while.

I've been learning and studying aikido for a while now and I'm having a blast.
Aside from going to class and doing all that stuff I've been doing a lot of reading on the spiritual aspect of aikido. Art of peace and what not.
The whole love thy enemy get, rid of your ego, respect everyone all life is sacred stuff is really clicking for me. I've implemented this stuff in my life, How I deal with people at work and at home and how I approach challenges etc..

Here is my spiritual issue however.

I'm a soldier and I'm heading overseas in a few months for my third tour. I'm having a problem trying to understand how I can practice 'the art of peace' while in that environment. The main idea (open to argument I'm sure) of Aikido is to take someone who is trying to hurt you and disarm them without harm coming to you OR them. Unfortunately some of the people I will deal with won't give me that option. If I for example don't shoot to kill then I am putting my life in danger and those around me, military and civilian. Seconds will mean the difference between life and death. I can't see a way to avoid hurting people in this situation, these guys are not going to give me many options.
Now I don't have a problem against it. It's my job and while I won't enjoy having to hurt someone, I won't hesitate to do it for an instant. I'm just trying to figure out how I can apply aikido principals to the environment I am in and the job I will be doing.

The military seems like an odd environment for aikido due to the training, conditioning, aggression and personalities the army often attracts, especially in the combat arms. That said the few aikidoists I've spoke with in the military seem to really have their stuff together. Their self control professionalism and respect seem to rub off on those around them, I just need some advice on how I can start along that path.

mathewjgano
05-30-2006, 08:40 PM
In my mind, practicality must aim toward idealism, but idealism must yield to practicality. Use your wits and your senses and do your best, beyond that, I can't give any specific advice because, for one thing, I'm not in the military. However, it sounds as if you're already pretty well along that path you described.
Gambatte, Okiotsukete, Ogenkide,
Matthew

Erick Mead
05-30-2006, 10:20 PM
The whole love thy enemy get, rid of your ego, respect everyone all life is sacred stuff is really clicking for me. I've implemented this stuff in my life, How I deal with people at work and at home and how I approach challenges etc. Welcome, Grant. I hope members here will offer you their many facets of expereince on your very pointed, important and timely question.

Let me begin, not in my words, but in O-Sensei's:

"Realizing in your heart that
life and death looms before you
You might wish to withdraw
But the enemy will not let you."

And,

"Thinking that I am in front of him
The enemy raises his sword to attack
But, lo, I am already standing behind him."
Here is my spiritual issue however.

I'm a soldier and I'm heading overseas in a few months for my third tour. I'm having a problem trying to understand how I can practice 'the art of peace' while in that environment. Aikido is not about peace unless it is also about war. I firmly believe that none can make peace who cannot also make war. I am personally saddened only that the first go round of the Gulf War (which was my turn) did not ensure that you were not called upon to do it now.
The main idea (open to argument I'm sure) of Aikido is to take someone who is trying to hurt you and disarm them without harm coming to you OR them. Unfortunately some of the people I will deal with won't give me that option. If I for example don't shoot to kill then I am putting my life in danger and those around me, military and civilian. Seconds will mean the difference between life and death. I can't see a way to avoid hurting people in this situation, these guys are not going to give me many options.
Aikido is training in a way of thinking about conflict, not of force on force, but of victory without directly opposing your force to that of the enemy. It is the practical methods and principles that Sun Tzu described as "Supreme art in war is to defeat the enemy without fighting." He did not say it was the only way, or even necessarily an available way in all circumstances.

One cannot compel an enemy to give up the error of bringing conflict to you. You can minimize the scope of response, and dissipate his tactical effort by appropriate use of aiki. This way of thinking works in hand -to- hand, blade weapons, and in small arms also. The techniques of aiki are training your body, but also you mind and heart. They teach you to look for (and occasionally even find) a response that more likely to destroy the enemy's attack, without destroying the enemy.

Aikido is a strategic paradigm. That is not to say it is of use only to armchair officers and planners. Strategy is the art of choice among available tactics. Aikido techniques school you in reacting to the enemies' strategic choices in ways that minimize your input of energy/effort/or planning, which are all precious commodities in short supply in a hot contact situation.

Now I don't have a problem against it. It's my job and while I won't enjoy having to hurt someone, I won't hesitate to do it for an instant. I'm just trying to figure out how I can apply aikido principals to the environment I am in and the job I will be doing. My first teacher Dennis Hooker Sensei has said before, (and here recently) that he has his aiki of war and his aiki of peace. It was too good a quote not to steal.

It has been told that, in hearing that a number of people survived the sinking of the Titanic, someone remarked that "God was with those that were rescued." Someone else overhearing this, said in reponse, "God was with those who were drowning also." The point being that our view is not God's view. Our wars are not God's wars, and our peace is not His peace.

If an attacker dies in a violent encounter, and the survivor used aikido techniques to save himself or others, it does not mean that the aikido failed because the attacker died. All measures are finite and some results are not avoidable. Take no blame for the results of necessary acts. If you choose always among the tactics available to you, those choices that reduce the necessity of escalation, that provide space for an enemy to end rather than reignite conflict, you have done all that honor and duty require.

What those choices may be in the immediate need you will not have the luxury of knowing in advance. Aikido training will help you learn to make the choices ultimately given to you, immediately, intuitively, and in ways that guide you to the channels of de-escalation, when you must respond directly to threatened or feared aggression.

The military seems like an odd environment for aikido due to the training, conditioning, aggression and personalities the army often attracts, especially in the combat arms. That said the few aikidoists I've spoke with in the military seem to really have their stuff together. Their self control professionalism and respect seem to rub off on those around them, I just need some advice on how I can start along that path.
I never found it odd. You shouldn't either. There are good groups practicing in Iraq. I know of a good Marine who routinely trains young Marines in aikido at Camp Lejeune, and was there recently or is there now. A good dojo mate of mine is shipping out for a National Guard tour in Iraq also, he trains in aikido and iaijutsu.

My own Gulf War deployment experience (Navy) made me value my jo and bokken. (Hint: never try ukemi on non-skid.) It is remarkable to me how much the mere motions of the basic kata I knew at the time, played out in variations, have added depth to my practice. it is good, calming and a good stress reducer, especially when you have NOT been able to set eyes (or outgoing rounds) on the enemies setting munitions against you.

Keep practicing!

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Kevin Leavitt
05-30-2006, 11:39 PM
Hey Grant, looks like you found us!

As you probably already know, I am in the U.S. Army as an Infantry Officer. I work at the largest U.S Training area in Europe. I spend most of my time directly training or influencing troops to go "down range". In additon, from time to time I too deploy to various locations.

In my personal life I practice and follow the tenants and philosophies of buddhism, I am a vegetarian on top of that...and pretty much try and follow a path of peace or non-violence.

As you already know, it is a complicated and conflicted life we can lead as soldiers. It can be hard at times to reconcile our personal beliefs with those of our country, citizens, and institutions. It has been a hard road for me at times to make sure I am doing the right things.

I look forward to discussing my experiences with you. I hope they will be of help. I cannot recall the particular books, articles or essays...but the Dali Lama has been an inspiration for me in his writings and has helped guide me in my path. His writings showed me that the world is not necessarily "black or white".

I would recommend reading some of his things.

In a small space I will tell you this. This is how I see it for me right now....I try and train and influence the people I am around as best I can by setting a good example. I don't preach, criticize, or lecture...I simply try and "be the change I want to see in the world". (Ghandi) We need good soldiers in the world that understand peace as well.

I train my soldiers to have the best skills they can. I train them in combatives, I try and help them understand ethics and our Army Values, which are not in conflict with my values BTW. I hope that when the time comes that they will make the best decision they can make, and hopefully make it in a caring and compassionate way...as best they can.

Look at SGT Alvin York as well, a U.S Soldier, but a conscientious objector who made some tough decisions and went on to do great things.

I think guys like you and I make some of the best soldiers because we take the time to really understand peace.

I am happy to talk off line with you as well if you have topics of a more personal nature. PM me if you'd like!

Kevin Leavitt
05-30-2006, 11:42 PM
Oh also this, I am not sure how it works in the Canadian Army...but if you can, go discuss it with your Chaplain...he might have some insights and be of help as well.

xuzen
05-30-2006, 11:54 PM
Soldiers all over the globe put their life in danger to protect the life of civilians of legitimate nations. Sometimes, circumstances dictate you to kill, sometimes it dictate you save lives. What are we but only a servant to our nation and political masters. Kill if you must, but take no joy at such action only that you are duty bound to carry the action on the bequest of your oath. Do what you must but do it justly, honourably and with compassion even against the bitterest of enemies.

<Esoteric mode off>

Boon.

Lyle Bogin
05-31-2006, 06:19 AM
Wow, that is the most serious question anyone has ever posted in this forum.

Good luck and please share your wisdom upon your safe return.

Rocky Izumi
05-31-2006, 07:53 AM
Used to train the DND provos at 15 Wing in Moose Jaw before they headed out to Haiti back in the 90's.

One piece of advice from one of my Shihan many years ago (paraphrased):

"Ai means harmony. When someone is attacking you with a gun, defending yourself with a knife is not harmonious. If they have a .38 you should have a .45."

Basically, don't take a knife to a gunfight.

Harmony is about fitting in with your environment and those around you. You try and elevate those around you if you can. It's called "hearts and minds". You do the best you can under the circumstances by fitting in to the situation. But, don't place yourself and your buddies into harm's way just because you want to be "nice". You have a job to do and you have to do that first. That will keep you and your buddies safe. You can't be of any good to anyone if you and your buddies are dead or grieviously wounded.

By seeming naive and kind, you just make yourself a target for those who want a soft target and to do maximum damage. BE PROFESSIONAL. That means being fair, equitable, alert, and careful.

You don't have to be a Rambo but you aren't there to be nice. People don't appreciate nice as much as they appreciate fair, especially in a war zone. You are there to provide stability and a chance for the locals to pull themselves out of the mire. You aren't there to do everything for them, no matter how desperate their case may seem.

Remember the parable of the scorpion and the fox trying to cross the river. You aren't there to change the nature of the people but to allow them the choice to determine their own destiny.

Rock

SeiserL
05-31-2006, 08:08 AM
IMHO (from an old Army recon/fo/S2 grunt), get out of your head (internal mental obsessing does not lend itself to good external awareness), let your training speak for itself and just do what the situation dictates, keep you eyes open, your head down, cover each other's back, and leave no one behind.

Guilty Spark
05-31-2006, 09:44 AM
Thank you for the great replies. This was exactly what I was looking for and more than I expected!

I feel many people falsely give aikido a bad rep. Without taking the time to truly learn about it or ask questions they hear someone talking about how it's 'not really fighting' or non-violent and pass judgment. By the sounds of it many people translate this into aikido being about running away or not hitting someone back. It's not a real martial art because it's not practiced in UFC or in some kind of cage fight.

I think many people take the aggressive/violent path because they don't know any better or society expects them too. It's easy to hurt someone, especially when they've hurt you first.
Before studying aikido I've been in at least three situations with the military where according to our rules of engagement I could have used lethal force. I choose not to because I was able to defuse the situation without hurting anyone. I was disappointed that some of my younger peers couldn't understand why I didn't shoot. "If you were allowed to shoot why didn't you! I would have!". I don't think (hope) this is a case of them wanting to hurt someone so much as it is a case of conditioning (Such as the movie jar head where the marines go crazy because they've completed all the training DON'T have anyone to fight) and because they haven't learned that it's beneficial to use just as much force as required.

In the military or law enforcement (and I'm doing a lot of assuming here) if you get into an altercation with someone and you use your martial arts training to break someones legs and arms, chances are your going to put yourself in hot water regardless of the situation. Especially so due to cameras and the media being everywhere. It's easy to start the footage at the point where you throw someone to the ground and hit them to keep them there, NOT the previous five minutes of said guy throwing rocks at you and trying to hit you in the head with a steel club.

Maybe in the case of soldiers (especially) it can be considered tough love? While your not looking to hurt or injure someone you may have to in order to protect the masses. Practicing the aikido way in this situation means you don't hurt people because you want to but because that person has given you no other option.

I'm confident if required I will do whats needed of me to protect my peers, civilians around me and accomplish the mission. I'm also confident that if someone chooses to do something that requires me injuring or killing them to stop them I'll do it with no malice or hate for them- which to me is what aikido is about. Anyone can comfort a dying friend, it takes someone special to comfort a dying enemy I guess.

That almost seems too simple, I should have thought of that before :D


Again, thank you again for the replies, it's still given me a lot to think about and some very good new perspectives.

Grant

Kevin Leavitt
05-31-2006, 12:24 PM
Grant wrote:

I think many people take the aggressive/violent path because they don't know any better or society expects them too. It's easy to hurt someone, especially when they've hurt you first.

In my experiences people take the violent path when they have fear. Fear is typically bred out of ignorance and inexperience. When you have deep understanding and the proper training, it reduces fear and allows you to have options.


I choose not to because I was able to defuse the situation without hurting anyone. I was disappointed that some of my younger peers couldn't understand why I didn't shoot.

Why we have NCOs and Officers is because younger soldiers have not developed the maturity, wisdom, or knowledge to make proper decisions. One of the reasons I am so adamant about our combatives training in the Army is that I feel it plays an important part in helping soldiers deal with physical and mental conflict directly.


I'm confident if required I will do whats needed of me to protect my peers, civilians around me and accomplish the mission. I'm also confident that if someone chooses to do something that requires me injuring or killing them to stop them I'll do it with no malice or hate for them

I am glad to hear that. Do make sure that whatever you do, that you go into it with a clear mind and heart. When you are down range and "hot" it is not the time to get philosophical and think. Do all that on your own time and before deploying. If you are conflicted and not thinking straight you are a danger to yourself and your troops!

Set the example, have a clear mind and heart, be honest, and do the right things...and it will work out in the long run!

Jeff Sodeman
05-31-2006, 12:52 PM
I think the "don't think too much" point is a great one.

At a seminar one of our shihan was talking about the role of the military. He compared it to the role of a doctor. At times a doctor will have to go in with a knife and cut away a part of your body, a tumor for example, so that you as a whole are healthier. In this way a violent act is an act of compassion.

Personally, my belief is that aikido attempts to do the "least possible" harm to an attacker. Least possible sometimes being just moving out of the way, and at others as much as killing an attacker.

DudSan
05-31-2006, 02:54 PM
Personally, my belief is that aikido attempts to do the "least possible" harm to an attacker. Least possible sometimes being just moving out of the way, and at others as much as killing an attacker.
Agree. If you donīt want to do absolutely any harm to an enemy, just donīt resist and let him killing you. It would be so unnatural an absolutely non violent martial art, as an art absolutely intended to kill. Every extreme is bad. Ueshiba said 'We must remember that Aikido is BUDO. And we must be strong to defeat evil in World, I think were his words'. Hey, a Nikyo can break a wrist, and a Shiho Nage on the paviment.... Ouch.

Anyway, a martial art doesnīt work only in Self Defense situations. It works in the whole life. So, if one learn to be better thanx to Aikido, is a good inversion I think. This is good for everybody, soldiers included.

And, finally: some day everybody gets licensed from the Army, due to age. Will he rely, when being a civilian, in lethal force (Combatives) only for SD? In war a soldier must 'Kill or get killed', but civilian life is not the same thing. You kill a man, you go to jail. So, for this future life when you wonīt have the sad chance to kill your oppponent (this is bad for everybody: for him and for you) you will love Aikido because you will have practised beforehand an art that can be Defensive into the range of action that Law prescribes for civilians, and that can be effective for your body even when you become aged.

My two cents
Dud San

Stephen Pate
05-31-2006, 03:18 PM
I've never seen a contradiction between my Army and Aikido. We seek to deter hostility by being strong. We always strive for the minimum use of force to resolve a conflict. If we capture the enemy, we protect him from harm.

Best of luck to you.

statisticool
05-31-2006, 03:39 PM
By blending both you might be able to provide a more aiki solution to replace destruction and conflict

xuzen
05-31-2006, 10:28 PM
In his book, Aikido Shugyo, Gozo Shioda wrote that when he was call for duty in Shanghai during WWII, his aikido sensei i.e., Morihei Ueshiba said, "Gozo, go in peace, you will not be harmed, I have make sure of that".

Not related to this topic, but it sure brought warm fuzzy feeling to me each time I reread that paragraph.

Boon.

jeff.
06-04-2006, 10:55 AM
hey grant

i'm not a soldier, but from what i can grasp of it _in search of the warrior spirit_ by richard strozzi-heckler sensei might be of use to you. its (basically) about teaching aikido to green berrets, and deals with a lot of the issues i figure you're thinking about. but if i'm wrong, you still might enjoy it!

jeff.

Mark Freeman
06-05-2006, 04:09 PM
The military seems like an odd environment for aikido due to the training, conditioning, aggression and personalities the army often attracts, especially in the combat arms. That said the few aikidoists I've spoke with in the military seem to really have their stuff together. Their self control professionalism and respect seem to rub off on those around them, I just need some advice on how I can start along that path.

I will have some real faith in humanity's chance of surviving and thriving to a more peacefull world, when all an army trains all of its people using the principles and practice of Aikido.

There is no reason why the central 'paradigm' of a modern well trained army could not be built on the core priciples of aikido.
They do not need to be immersed in the 'traditional' elements of dress and ettiquette, but it should be a central part of their combat training.
I respect the position of people like Kevin who are part of the military and doing their best to 'spread the aikido word', through practical application.

I dont think for one minute that aikido should be 'the' only basis for training, it should be a part of many effective techniques, and it doesn't really matter what the names are. Effective combat techniques are many.

The top brass of the military have to be the ones to bring about this change, so I'm not expecting anything soon. ;)

Am I just an idealistic old hippy, or do you guy's think their might be some cause for optimism in the long term?

How close are we to an army being run in this 'enlightened' way?

Just a thought,

regards,

Mark

Mark Freeman
06-05-2006, 04:11 PM
hey grant

i'm not a soldier, but from what i can grasp of it _in search of the warrior spirit_ by richard strozzi-heckler sensei might be of use to you. its (basically) about teaching aikido to green berrets, and deals with a lot of the issues i figure you're thinking about. but if i'm wrong, you still might enjoy it!

jeff.

I second that, an essential book for anyone remotely interested in aikido and the warrior/soldier mind.

regards,

Mark

Kevin Leavitt
06-06-2006, 01:41 PM
Good book.

Ideally the military would use the principles of aikido. Directly, they are not ready for it, but the U.S. Army is transforming in a major way, so I think we are moving in the right direction versus the wrong one.

One thing you have to remember on a macroscopic level, the military is a small, specific part of a machine called the United States. So if you look at it that way, it would require society at large to adopt the principles of aikido. The military is but a tactical application of our voters and governments "KI" for lack of a better analogy.

We are however getting much more skillful at laws of conflict and escalation of force. Our combatives program is also a step in the right direction.

Will you ever see traditional aikido being practiced or adopted in the Army in our lifetime? Likely not, it would require a huge shift in values and philosophy in the U.S. as a whole IMO. Will we see the military get much more skillfull in the art of war. Absolutely. From Civil Affairs to soldiers dealing with people...we are getting better at the close fight.

Mark Freeman
06-09-2006, 04:25 AM
Good book.

Ideally the military would use the principles of aikido. Directly, they are not ready for it, but the U.S. Army is transforming in a major way, so I think we are moving in the right direction versus the wrong one.

One thing you have to remember on a macroscopic level, the military is a small, specific part of a machine called the United States. So if you look at it that way, it would require society at large to adopt the principles of aikido. The military is but a tactical application of our voters and governments "KI" for lack of a better analogy.

We are however getting much more skillful at laws of conflict and escalation of force. Our combatives program is also a step in the right direction.

Will you ever see traditional aikido being practiced or adopted in the Army in our lifetime? Likely not, it would require a huge shift in values and philosophy in the U.S. as a whole IMO. Will we see the military get much more skillfull in the art of war. Absolutely. From Civil Affairs to soldiers dealing with people...we are getting better at the close fight.

Thanks for addressing the questions I posed Kevin. I agree that society at large would need to adopt the priciples of aikido for it really to take effect in the military. One can always dream...

I'm glad as an insider you see the US military moving towards rather than away from the priciples we are talking about. There is a view from the 'outside' however that says 'not before time too'.
Senior British military officials have gone on record here as saying the US is way too 'heavy handed' in their foriegn dealings. Their view is born of a long history of overseas 'skirmishes' inherent in running a global empire. That the Brits tend to use a 'soft' approach, trying to win over the hearts and minds of the local population has been fairly well documented. Some of this strategy comes from the SAS tactics of infiltration and subversion. (I'm not an expert, just an watcher of documentaries ;) )
This could be seen as a parallel to the hard/soft styles in aikido, they both work towards the same ends, but sometimes more blood gets spilled in the former.

This is not an attack on you or the military, if anything, as you say the military is a reflection of society as a whole. It just highlights different emphasis.

It's not really the right section to air my partisan views, but I am trying to see the big picture in relation to 'aikido priciples'.
The US is like a big, strong aikidoka, they find it hard 'not' to use muscle, after all why not use what you've got?
When one nation tries to 'force' its point of view on another, aiki is not present.
We see/hear the verbal jabbing, thrusting and feinting of the 'diplomats' on the news every day. Military conflict often has this ritual dance before the 'real' fight starts.
The US stance in relation to Iran is interesting, if they don't manage to work it out diplomatically ( I hope they do ) we are all going to get knocked about in the ensuing dogfight. I realise that the top brass do not want to lay down their option to 'punch the other guy squarely in the face' if they don't do as required. But that in itself only makes for clenching of fists and hunkering down on the part of the 'other'.

I realise that global politics are far more complex than us small fry can comprehend. But people are people, if they feel they are under threat, they will respond in quite predictable patterns.
Aikido practice demands that we break free of those patterns, to relax when faced with tension, to not push when being pushed etc.

Trying to break an 'ideology' with force is like trying to smash up water with a sledgehammer, there has to be a less messy and more productive approach.

I'll stop now before I get carried away :D

regards,

Mark
p.s. anyone wanting to highlight the shortcomings of the UK's military in retaliation will only be met with agreement, ;)

Kevin Leavitt
06-09-2006, 08:33 AM
Good comments Mark!

I really cannot comment on the current administrations policies or choices we have made. I have my own opinions, but it is not my place to voice them here.

Anyway, macroscopic or microscopic, I tend to view things from a Karmic standpoint. You reap what you sow. Not being judgemental, but I think it is up to every person to think about his/her actions and figure out the connection between those actions and how they relate to the cause and effect of our miitary action.

If we want to make change in the world, we must all "be the change that we want to see". To me it is really that simple. It is more basic than getting out and voting, lobbying, or sending a few dollars to "save the victims of _____" We cannot absolve ourselves of personal responsibilty of the small choices we make each day! If we want to see things change, we must do the small things.

One way is taking our lessons learned from aikido out into the world.

Erick Mead
06-09-2006, 09:32 AM
Thanks for addressing the questions I posed Kevin. I agree that society at large would need to adopt the priciples of aikido for it really to take effect in the military. One can always dream...
I'm glad as an insider you see the US military moving towards rather than away from the priciples we are talking about.

I see the U.S. Military as more of a "warrior" force now, rather than a mere "soldier" force. That is the difference between the voluntary acceptance of vocation and the conscript. In addition the American tradition has always been a citizen-soldier model. That's why we make such poor imperialists. The tropps ultimately want to leave where they are sent. The Brits of Empire seemed all too comfortable wherever they landed. Other peoples who have a legitmate historical assumption of imperialist ambition, do not understand this. After we are done in Iraq they might differ in their opinions.

What if you stand between the snarling wolves and the infant nation to give its space to grow so as to defend itself ? How much force should we withhold against the wolves? And human wolves have not even the excuse of hunger.

When one nation tries to 'force' its point of view on another, aiki is not present. I agree. But there are many uses of force, some honorable, some not. The late Hussein regime indulged and was invested in dishonorable forms of force, agasint its neighbors and its own poulation. We are not trygin to upend Jordan, and have even made terms with Qaddafi, who has decided ot take the (more) honorable road. That is the present effort with Iran, with the outcome as yet undetermined.

The US stance in relation to Iran is interesting, if they don't manage to work it out diplomatically ( I hope they do ) we are all going to get knocked about in the ensuing dogfight. I realise that the top brass do not want to lay down their option to 'punch the other guy squarely in the face' if they don't do as required. But that in itself only makes for clenching of fists and hunkering down on the part of the 'other'.

Aiki is defninitely being practiced with Iran. They are being given the means for everything they legitimately they say they want, with the sole exception of the illegitimate ability to do other nations great harm. Their response will now determine their true intent.

Cordially
Erick Mead

Demetrio Cereijo
06-09-2006, 11:19 AM
...with the sole exception of the illegitimate ability to do other nations great harm. Their response will now determine their true intent.


Erick,

Why do you consider illegitimate for Iran to have the ability do do great harm. There's a lot of countries who have this ability. What makes these other countries different?

Erick Mead
06-09-2006, 02:36 PM
Erick,
Why do you consider illegitimate for Iran to have the ability do do great harm. There's a lot of countries who have this ability. What makes these other countries different?

A few things. Iran has no good record of refrianing from the use of nuclear arms, and a well-documented record of pursuing that regime's objectives through covert support of violent terror against civilian populations. It has a specific record of disregarding even the most basic norms of interational relations in the sanctity of foreign representatives, an episode in which its current president personally participated. He has visions of himself "surrounded by a holy fire." Not comforting rhetoric to my ears in this context. Nuclear arms are primarily weapons of terror that work without having to be being employed. That's one reason why MAD worked.

Iran's government cannot be trusted with them.

Unlike, say -- Russia, China, France, U.K., to a lesser extent, India and Pakistan (with several asterisks) and -- so they say -- Israel, and maybe even Japan.

Oh . -- and the U.S.

The Tokyo firebombing killed more than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. These are the only use of nuclear arms in hostile action. The bombs used in Japan killed about 103,000. The U.S. War Department casualty estimates, based on figure sfrom Iwojim Luzon and Okinawa placed the likely number of American servicemen dead from invasion of Japan at 100,000 per month and easily a million to take just Kyushu and Honshu. The ratio of American to Japanese casualties in those same battles averaged around 1:3, meaning that native Japanese deaths could very likely be several million more. Truman based his choice to bomb on that calculus.

What similar moral dilemma and crisis of total war does the Iranian regime face that justify development of such weapons -- apart from attempts to maintain power over growing internal dissent by appeals to chest-beating nationalism?

The Iranian people deserve a better government. That government does not deserve nuclear weapons.

Cordially,
Erick Mead



Cordially,
Erick Mead

akiy
06-09-2006, 02:44 PM
Hi folks,

I just wanted to step in and ask that the subject matter in this thread be focused on the matter of reconciling aikido principles and philosophy with being in the military.

If you feel the need to move this subject to a broader context outside of aikido, please take it to the Open Discussions (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=14) forum.

Thanks,

-- Jun

Neil Mick
06-10-2006, 12:58 PM
Whoah. Talk about reality, disconnected from perception.

Out of respect for the thread topic, I won't go into this disconnect overmuch, unless someone wants to start a new thread topic.

But please...comments like this:

I see the U.S. Military as more of a "warrior" force now, rather than a mere "soldier" force.

make me wonder how anyone can honestly make these kinds of statements. Consider our current record: Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo, Fallujah, Haditha, Ishaqi, etc.

Granted, these incidents are the exception, rather than the rule.

But, a brief analysis of these events suggests a complicit top-down hierarchy that permits these abuses to go unpunished (and uninvestigated), so long as it doesn't get out in the media.

In short, we do not have, IMO, a "warrior" army. IMO, "warrior army" implies some institutional commitment to a greater, nobler cause. A "warrior army" would not engage in an illegal war without some principled stand against it, as in the case of Lt. Ehren Watada. (http://www.thankyoult.org/)

No, we have individuals who can be called "warriors" within the US Army: but the US Army could hardly be called a "warrior army:" not without employing a serious dose of historic amnesia (for a remedy of this amnesia, I suggest reading A People's History of the US). (http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Zinn/PeoplesWar_PeoplesHx.html)

In addition the American tradition has always been a citizen-soldier model. That's why we make such poor imperialists.

I believe that a great many Philippines, Hawaiians, Cubans, etc. might disagree. In the words of General Smedley Butler:

spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902--1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.

So, to tie it all back into the first post: yes, I agree with all the points about using Aikido as a means to become a better warrior.
But the US Army has a long, long way to go before it can properly be called a "warrior army." Warriors engage in self-reflection; and self-correction. In an insititutional warrior army: this would translate to full, transparent investigations of itself; and a firm commitment to uphold its moral directives (i.e., the Geneva Conventions).

The US Army cannot even properly be called a "volunteer" force anymore: the way we're operating now--we're more properly called a "volunteer/privatization" force. Some of the worst abuses were caused by unsupervised contractors, who do not have the same commitments to the Geneva Conventions, as a US soldier should.

CAN a privatized mercenary with no clear mandates for rules of engagement employ Aikido techniques, to transform into a warrior? I suppose it's possible, but IMO the next mercenary might well be just as prone to moral slacking, with no centralized code of conduct, as a moral center. In a dojo where there is no Sensei and the rules are vague, with little fear of retribution: why adhere to rules?

No, the only rule to adhere under these circumstances is CYA...cover your (and your buds') a#%. Make sure you get out alive, and leave the finer details to whomever signs the checks, for later.

Kevin Leavitt
06-10-2006, 01:17 PM
Neil,

This topic is not about politics, but about a soldier from the Canadian Army trying to reconcile his personal beliefs with those of war.

As Jun states, it is about reconciliation and doing right actions, not about politics. In all due respect, I have never come in and dumped all over your threads, I'd expect you to show the same kind of respect on this one. If you have something of value to contribute along a positive vein that is about reconciliation and ethics, then by all means please contribute.

I have no issue with your politics as long as you keep them in the forum they belong in and keep them pointed at the civilian sector, but once you come in and start messing around with soldiers and soldier ethos I start taking it a little bit personally.

I am assuming you have never been a soldier or in the military, so I really don't think you are qualified to have an opinion about what soldiers think, feel, or do. Maybe you have seen some bad acts, or had some bad experiences. I am sorry if that is the case.

The majority of us have families, would love nothing more than to have no war and to have peace, and essentially want the same thing out of life that you do.

As a citizen of the U.S. you are a part of the process to make change. (please refer to my earlier post).

Again, if you have something to add about aikido and implementation of the art or martial arts in general in the military, then please contribute. Again this is not an area to get on your soap box. Keep it in open discussion please.

Neil Mick
06-10-2006, 01:30 PM
Neil,

This topic is not about politics, but about a soldier from the Canadian Army trying to reconcile his personal beliefs with those of war.

As Jun states, it is about reconciliation and doing right actions, not about politics. In all due respect, I have never come in and dumped all over your threads, I'd expect you to show the same kind of respect on this one. If you have something of value to contribute along a positive vein that is about reconciliation and ethics, then by all means please contribute.

Kevin,

As Jun stated,

Hi folks,

I just wanted to step in and ask that the subject matter in this thread be focused on the matter of reconciling aikido principles and philosophy with being in the military.

Thanks,

-- Jun

Now I took that admonishment very seriously. I felt that simply calling our Army a "warrior" army was an incorrect assessment of the current function and make-up, of this army.

I'm sorry that you felt the need to label my post as "dumping." And in point of fact, I was being very respectful. I challenge you to go back and find one sentence, where I showed a lack of respect.

Now then...

I have no issue with your politics as long as you keep them in the forum they belong in and keep them pointed at the civilian sector, but once you come in and start messing around with soldiers and soldier ethos I start taking it a little bit personally.

Good: I hope you do. It is your job, after all. I meant it personally; but with no disrespect. I hope you now see the difference.

I am assuming you have never been a soldier or in the military, so I really don't think you are qualified to have an opinion about what soldiers think, feel, or do.

Nope, never have been a soldier; probably never will. And no, I am not qualified to express myself as some sort of authority on the subject.

But not qualified to have an opinion?? Since when are people not qualified to have an opinion?? Do I need to sign a verification now, before I post an opinion...? Please.

More to the point: I was talking about the function of the Army, rather than what soldiers think/feel, etc. And since I'm partly footing the bill for what this Army does: well then, IMO, that makes me MORE than an expert...that makes me complicit, in their actions.

So no: I cannot expertly state how a soldier should think...but I certainly can state (with some assurance) that they, as an Army, are not acting, as warriors.

A Warrior Army, IMO, has a central moral code...a volunteer/privatized Army, does not.

Maybe you have seen some bad acts, or had some bad experiences. I am sorry if that is the case.

The majority of us have families, would love nothing more than to have no war and to have peace, and essentially want the same thing out of life that you do.

As a citizen of the U.S. you are a part of the process to make change. (please refer to my earlier post).

As I have attempted, several times in the past. I am sorry my post made you feel defensive: but it was not intended as an attack upon soldiers.

Again, if you have something to add about aikido and implementation of the art or martial arts in general in the military, then please contribute. Again this is not an area to get on your soap box. Keep it in open discussion please.

The topic, again: was about Aikido and the military. Now IMO, that also includes a discussion about the Army as a whole, as opposed to the Army as individual soldiers.

If you cannot see the relevance of this topic within the discussion, then we can agree, to disagree.

Kevin Leavitt
06-10-2006, 01:36 PM
Neil,

I refer you to the first post made by Grant:

Here is my spiritual issue however.

I'm a soldier and I'm heading overseas in a few months for my third tour. I'm having a problem trying to understand how I can practice 'the art of peace' while in that environment.

This is the focus of discussion.

Not if you think Soldiers are warriors or not. How I define myself, or you define yourself, or what you identify with is irrelevant to the discussion. Personally I define my soldiers and myself as warriors. To debate that here though is not what this is about.

What I would be interested in is how you feel a soldier can reconcile his beliefs about valuing life and peace and harmony with the act of going to war and dealing with the conflict that such an environment can create.

Neil Mick
06-10-2006, 02:02 PM
Neil,

I refer you to the first post made by Grant:

This is the focus of discussion.

Respectfully, I take issue with this assertion. A discussion takes many roads, and the last few posts have broached the topic of the spiritual function of the Army.

Again, I'm sorry that you take issue with my opinions, but I fail to see how my take on the subject is anything other than a continuance of the topic.

To me, it seems as if you are attempting to establish a "political correctness" gauge to this thread...you can ONLY talk about individual soldiers' beliefs, and NOT their function, as an Army.

Or, you can ONLY express your opinions here, if you are a soldier.

Sorry, I don't march, dance, or tenkan to that tune.

Not if you think Soldiers are warriors or not. How I define myself, or you define yourself, or what you identify with is irrelevant to the discussion. Personally I define my soldiers and myself as warriors. To debate that here though is not what this is about.

Sez you. I could just as easily use this tack to argue that you have no place discussing the role of Aikido to a soldier, unless you are currently practicing it, as you aren't a "real" Aikidoist unless this were so.

And if I did, I would be just as misplaced, in my assertion.

What I would be interested in is how you feel a soldier can reconcile his beliefs about valuing life and peace and harmony with the act of going to war and dealing with the conflict that such an environment can create.

Well, as you pointed out: I am not a soldier. And so, I will go with the stance of Lt. Watada (http://159.54.227.3/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060608/MULTIMEDIA/60608001) in his recent statements.

IMO, every time you are ordered to pick up a gun to kill: a soldier should examine the moral and legal ramifications behind that order. If he honestly believes that going to war will bring greater peace and harmony to the world: then there is no reconciliation needed...off to war, you go!

But in these politically convoluted times, there are few instances where such simple resolves are clear. But that is an individual choice.

An unknown (and significant) number of soldiers are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan psychically damaged. IMO, many of these soldiers are paying the price, for not reconciling their morals with their orders. It's very sad, but it's also very telling.

Somewhere along the way, some of these soldiers forgot to engage in this vital introspection...and their superiors failed to set a clear moral framework.

If you fail to discuss the latter (as you are attempting to do, here): you leave out a large part of the problem of the soldier's dilemma. It's the elephant in the room...what is the role of the Army, in shaping the individual soldier's moral code?

Kevin Leavitt
06-10-2006, 02:43 PM
The Army has no spiritual function.

Soldiers in the army are human beings and as such have spiritual needs.

Yes there are many soldiers that are returning from battle and have many psychological issues to deal with. It is a unfortunate casuality of war. One that we as a society must think hard about along with all the other horrors that you present. No one is debating that social issue. It is one that involves not only soldiers but our society as a whole.

No i am not excluding discussing from the topic introspection that people must make as they make a choice about going to war or making decisions to use violence or force. That is a good topic to talk about in this forum. Especially how it relates to the individual.

Absolutely every soldier should question his orders to pick up a gun and kill. At least in the United States we have a military that is volunteer (regardless of the social-economic issue of if we really have a volunteer army or not). By law it is still a volunteer army and as such, no one is required to join the military if they do not believe in the cause. There is also provisions in place for those that "change their minds" and become C.Os.

We also educate soldiers and train them of Rules of engagements, what constitutes lawful orders, and ethics, values and all that good stuff. So they are free to make decisions with in the confines of their faculities. No one sacrifices indiviuality.

In the case of your LT you quote, he made a decsion that he felt was right. He also made a decison and took an oath. Some casualities of war die on the battlefield, others will be along the lines of this LT. He made a courageous stand, and now he will deal with the fallout from that stand. Many people in life will be faced with having to make difficult decisions.

It is why it is important to think, comtemplate, and understand as much as you can about yourself, your beliefs, values, ethics....all stuff dealing with Budo...before you have to pull the trigger. Once you are faced with making that decision under fire, so to speak, it is not the time to change your mind. When you do that, you always will have to deal with the consequences of your action/inaction.

The problems we face in society and the military are very, very complicated. Really the military becomes a distillation or concentration of what problems we face as a society. From segregation, to ethics, and religion...the military has traditionally been the organization that has been the focus of these issues and has typically lead the way to showing our society how you can fix such problems.

I see no difference in this current war. We are facing many, many problems. We as a military are a reflection of society as a whole.

Do we have problems, of course. Are we trying to fix them. I have seen us take many steps and are heading in the right direction.

I spend about 5 hours a week teaching Army Combatives (martial arts). In that course of study it becomes very evident to soldiers that we are asking them to do things. Without preaching I and my fellow instructors always ask them to "think". think about what they are doing, why the are doing it, what they might be asked to do. Think about your emotional state, your family, friends etc.

No, it is not about political correcness, but about trying to help indiviudals...soldiers...be good people, and to do the right things. I am embarrassed and ashamed that many of the bad things happen that we have seen happen. Some people in our miitary make bad choices. I know of no leaders I personally work with, nor my subordinates that feel these actions are just or right.

Can we do more to better prepare people to make good choices? Yes we can, and we are! can we do more...absolutely!

So, to round out and get back on topic.....

It boils down to indiviual action. As Ghandi said "be the change you want to see in the world". For some it may being a peace activist and lobbying for social change. For others it may mean being a soldier and being a leader and setting a good example for other soldiers to follow.

I try not to get caught up in the whole gestalt of the thing as it is overwhelming a complicated. We all have a certain "karma" that puts us where we are in life. What actions we choose has a significant impact on things regardless of how small. What may be right for you may not be right for others. Being judgemental and accusatory, and pointing fingers doesn't solve anything. Exuding the values, and "change" that you want to be, is what is necessary for all of us to do regardless of where we are and what we are faced with.

It might be a Whaling boat as a Green Peace activist, or a Soldier having to make a choice to pull a trigger on a "enemy".

Neil Mick
06-10-2006, 03:56 PM
Kevin,

Congrats, for a thoughtful, and well-written response. Now then...

The Army has no spiritual function.

EVERYTHING, IMO, has a spiritual function...right down to the rocks and stones, lining your streets. Even a seeming absence of spiritual direction from an organization still propounds a spiritual imperative.

And of course the Army provides a spiritual direction...just look at their mottos: (http://www.military-quotes.com/mottos/US%20Army%20and%20Corps.htm)

"First In Deed"
is based on the numerical designation, purpose and achievements of the First United States Army.
- FIRST US ARMY

"Tertia Semper Prima"
(The Third Always First)
- THIRD US ARMY

"Leadership And Integrity"
- FOURTH US ARMY

"In Peace Prepare For War"
- FIFTH US ARMY

"Born of War"
- SIXTH US ARMY

"PACIFIC VICTORS"
The motto alludes to the Eighth Army's campaigns and operations in the Pacific Area, and service during World War II and the Korean War.
- EIGHTH US ARMY

"The Sword of Freedom"
US Army Europe

"AMERICA'S CORPS"
- I CORPS

"STRIKE FOR FREEDOM"
- III CORPS ARTILLERY

"Steadfast and Strong"
- V CORPS ARTILLERY

"It Will Be Done"
- V CORPS

"Honed in Combat"
- XXIV CORPS

Look at some of these keywords...Strength, Freedom, Leadership, Integrity...all of these are spiritual signposts, if you will. Maybe they don't always advocate specific spiritual practices (i.e., meditation); but I'm sure that the Army has experimented with it, at least to enhance soldier capability.


Yes there are many soldiers that are returning from battle and have many psychological issues to deal with. It is a unfortunate casuality of war. One that we as a society must think hard about along with all the other horrors that you present. No one is debating that social issue. It is one that involves not only soldiers but our society as a whole.

Yes. Sure, it's society's burden.

But, what about the Army? They have a significant role to play in the way soldiers behave on the battlefield.

There is also provisions in place for those that "change their minds" and become C.Os.

(very difficult-to-prove provisions, I might add)

We also educate soldiers and train them of Rules of engagements, what constitutes lawful orders, and ethics, values and all that good stuff. So they are free to make decisions with in the confines of their faculities. No one sacrifices indiviuality.

Well, apparently, in light of Abu Ghraib, Haditha, Fallujah, et al: the Army seems to be falling down in its role to train its soldiers in what consititutes "lawful orders."

(Or, can we simply dismiss a Marine Corps-attempt to cover up a clear war-crime on spiritual grounds, merely by saying that that is not their function...?)

I don't know the answers to these questions (as I am talking about the "spiritual," as opposed to the "legal"), but your elaboration leaves holes in the role (and responsibility) of the institution of the Army, when these spiritual directives are not met.

In the case of your LT you quote, he made a decsion that he felt was right. He also made a decison and took an oath. Some casualities of war die on the battlefield, others will be along the lines of this LT. He made a courageous stand, and now he will deal with the fallout from that stand. Many people in life will be faced with having to make difficult decisions.

It is why it is important to think, comtemplate, and understand as much as you can about yourself, your beliefs, values, ethics....all stuff dealing with Budo...before you have to pull the trigger. Once you are faced with making that decision under fire, so to speak, it is not the time to change your mind. When you do that, you always will have to deal with the consequences of your action/inaction.

Yes. I am reminded of a doc about the Kent State killings in the '60's. The film simultaneously showed two interviewee's (a decade aftter the massacre)...one a protestor, the other a National Guardsman, both relating their feelings at that moment. The protestor was expressing his disbelief and confusion, while the soldier kept saying "this isn't happening: this isn't happening."


The problems we face in society and the military are very, very complicated. Really the military becomes a distillation or concentration of what problems we face as a society. From segregation, to ethics, and religion...the military has traditionally been the organization that has been the focus of these issues and has typically lead the way to showing our society how you can fix such problems.

I see no difference in this current war. We are facing many, many problems. We as a military are a reflection of society as a whole.

Yes, agreed. Right down to the economic problems.

I try not to get caught up in the whole gestalt of the thing as it is overwhelming a complicated.

Interesting! I thought that you, of all people, would try to see the whole picture, and your role in it.

(no judgement call: I just find it surprising)

We all have a certain "karma" that puts us where we are in life. What actions we choose has a significant impact on things regardless of how small. What may be right for you may not be right for others. Being judgemental and accusatory, and pointing fingers doesn't solve anything. Exuding the values, and "change" that you want to be, is what is necessary for all of us to do regardless of where we are and what we are faced with.

It might be a Whaling boat as a Green Peace activist, or a Soldier having to make a choice to pull a trigger on a "enemy".

Yes. All true.

But, a whaling company, GreenPeace, and the Army (ANY army) all provide a moral and spiritual framework, from which we operate. Yep, even a whaling company. They might not talk about the spiritual underpinnings of what they're doing, but it's easy to evaluate...

1. Whales and fish are commodities. As such, concern for their lives are secondary to profit. The spiritual directives of GreenPeace are diametrically opposed to this ideal, and so the two groups sometimes clash.

2. Fishing in the ocean is fishing in a commons, but capture of fish and whales is collecting property and resources, to be bought and sold.

Adding international laws to the mix also betrays the spiritual framework of governments and people involved in the whaling industry. NAFTA laws allowing Japanese whalers to side-step other nations' environmental protections reveals a world of spiritual focus about the concerns of those nations.

In short: the drive to profit is more important than the living requirements of small, or local, communities. And don't even get me started about Free Trade...

Erick Mead
06-11-2006, 12:05 AM
Whoah. Talk about reality, disconnected from perception.

Out of respect for the thread topic, I won't go into this disconnect overmuch, unless someone wants to start a new thread topic.

But please...comments like this:
I see the U.S. Military as more of a "warrior" force now, rather than a mere "soldier" force.[/quotes] make me wonder how anyone can honestly make these kinds of statements. Consider our current record: Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo, Fallujah, Haditha, Ishaqi, etc.
....
In short, we do not have, IMO, a "warrior" army. IMO, "warrior army" implies some institutional commitment to a greater, nobler cause. A "warrior army" would not engage in an illegal war without some principled stand against it, ...

Not at all, and no moral hierarchy or judgemnt is implied -- a "warrior" is some one who fights from his own motivation; a "soldier" is somone who fights because someone else motivates him. A warrior may disregard orders for his own reasons, sometimes that is necessary adpataion to the vagaries of battle and saves lives; somtimes it's a war atrocity.

A soldier is one under command; a warrior is a fighter, without regard to command.. As I said, the american forces are more of "warrior" force than a "soldier" force, but they are very much part of both.

In addition the American tradition has always been a citizen-soldier model. That's why we make such poor imperialists. I believe that a great many Philippines, Hawaiians, Cubans, etc. might disagree.

I did not say we were NOT imperialist, I said we were POOR imperialists. I stand by that, and your examples tend to support my point, with Hawaii as the exception proving the rule .

Since the thread as Jun has said is about the spiritual issues surrounding military service, the warrior/soldier dichotomy necessarily comes into play.

A soldier follows orders; that is a definitional criterion. Orders do not excuse soldiers from moral responsibility, although they routinely try to argue the point. A warrior decides when he will, or will not, follow orders. He takes the consequences in both decisions, whether he follows or disobeys the order. But bad soldiers disobey orders too. That does not make them warrirors, thought they like to view it so.

That decision, for good or ill, is rich ground for spiritual thought in military service. The cult of honor is often the only guide, and never an explicit one.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

akiy
06-11-2006, 12:15 AM
Hi folks,

Last request before I move this thread to the Open Discussions forum.

Please remember that this forum is about aikido. Let's try to explicitly include that subject in your posts, please?

-- Jun

Erick Mead
06-11-2006, 12:38 AM
Hi folks,

Last request before I move this thread to the Open Discussions forum.

Please remember that this forum is about aikido. Let's try to explicitly include that subject in your posts, please?

-- Jun

Nuff said.

The attacker gets to decide how his attack will begin. Aiki is about choosing how the enemy's attack will end.

If a soldier merely slavishly follows orders he is controlling nothing, and in fact abdicating his choice to someone else. That is plainly not aiki. A warrior takes every order critically, and chooses how each such direction will end up, regardless of the intent of the one giving the order. That is aiki. Given an attack, the intended victim gets to shape the outcome. Given an order, the person executing it gets to shape the outcome.

Practice in Aikido gives one the ability to internalize this dynamic, and to deal with the issue more intuitively. If aikido practice has begun to internalize, one ought not be as conflicted in accepting the order as given, precisely becasue there are so many contingencies in its execution that may take the execution of that order is directions never intended or contemplated. If one is a warrior and not merely a soldier, how it turns out -- well ... , that depends on a lot of things -- just like good aikido randori.

I think the Bhagavad Gita had something along these lines, actually,

Ah well, nothing I write is truly original, anyway.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Guilty Spark
06-11-2006, 01:19 AM
Jun could we possibly split this thread into another broader debate in the general forums?

In any case I'll do my best to tie this into Aikido.

The military is like Aikido in that unless you've actually done it then it's hard to get an accurate account on what it's like.

The soldier vs warrior question is a biggie in the military community.
A good friend of mine pointed out some thoughtful differences between the two. Some will argue that the warrior is what someone should strive for yet others (such as my friend) will point out "warriors" are easily defeated when faced against soldiers. Examples include Native American braves vs US cavalry. Samurai vs their Japanese soldier counter parts. Barbarians against roman soldiers. In most cases warriors with their singular codes of conduct (battle) and preferring to keep with tradition and "the old ways"will loose when faced against soldiers who arguably put mission first and are willing to adopt new tactics and technology. I'll see if I can dig up his argument on it.

Above my friends compelling argument against "warriors" I still try to see warriors in a good light. To me a warrior is someone who makes soldiering his life. Where a soldier will take time off work, relax and do whatever, a warrior will spend his off time training to be a better soldier. I feel many soldiers who practice Aikido bring with them a warrior mentality. (It's easy to offer help to a dying friend, it's something all together different to comfort a dying enemy).

I don't feel we (north America, the allies) have a warrior army per say. Watching the recruiting commercials and such I feel the powers that be are trying to push this army of one warrior stuff and convince anyone listening that that is what we are. In truth I think our military is full of professional soldiers some of whom ply their trade under a warriors mentality.

A warrior or fighter who doesn't follow orders would probably find himself without a job pretty quick.

A warrior, like an aikido student in my opinion, is someone without an ego. Who does not have to put on a show or posture themselves trying to convince people around them that they are tough. Someone willing to do what they think is right vice what everybody else is doing. A quiet professional.

In the military, especially due to conditioning, I think it's easy for young soldiers to get caught up int he close with and destroy the enemy, hooah kill em all but 6 mentality. Aggressive and competitive. It's a necessary evil when you consider what we are asking 18 year old people to do. Approaching anything military with the aikido way of peace is tricky. It's a challenge to practice aikido spiritually while not looking like a 'tree hugger' or distancing yourself from your peers who may still be at the blood makes the grass grow! stage.

I'm not sure if this is a good example but just this week I was talking to a soldier and the topic of his ex girlfriend came up.'

'God I hate her, if she was here right now I would blow her head off with a shot gun!' Obviously it was posturing and all talk but instead of agreeing with him and egging him on I gave him an alternative."

"You should be happy that you guys split up! Look at it this way dude, I'm sure you guys fought like cats and dogs, think about how crappy you felt int hat relationship. If you were still with her you'd probably be talking about putting that shotgun to your head instead"
I know my comment hit home, i could literaly feel him look at his situation from a completely different point of view, and he agreed with me. It was like he dropped a huge weight from his shoulders.

Applying the spirit of Aikido in the military is tricky but if done right, in my opinion, has some awesome results.

Gernot Hassenpflug
06-11-2006, 01:53 AM
From Wikipedia:

A warrior is a person habitually engaged in war and/or skilled in the waging of war. In tribal societies engaging in endemic warfare, warriors often form a caste or class of their own. In feudalism, the vassals essentially form a military or warrior class, even if in actual warfare, peasants may be called to fight as well. In some societies, warfare may be so central that the entire people (or, more often, the male population) may be considered warriors, for example the Maori or Germanic tribes.

Professional warriors are people who are paid money for engaging in military campaigns and fall into one of two categories: Soldiers; when fighting on behalf of their own state, or mercenaries; when offering their services commercially and unrelated to their own nationality. The classification of somebody who is involved in acts of violence may be a matter of perspective, and there may be disagreement whether a given person is a hooligan, a gangster, a terrorist, a rebel, a freedom fighter, a mercenary or a soldier.

Warrior code

In many societies in which a specialized warrior class exists, specific codes of behavior (ethical codes) are instituted in order to ensure that the warrior class is not dangerous to the rest of society. Warrior codes often have common features and usually value loyalty, courage, and honor. Examples include the codes bushido and chivalry.

The posts by Mr. Mead mix warrior and warrior code up, confusingly. Aikido is nothing like this, although one thing is definite: in aikido, you cannot do what you like either, else you will not be going anywhere fast, except perhaps out the dojo LOL From my experience aikido everywhere takes on the aura of the senior teacher there - and I believe it is that teacher's severe responsibility to find out and discover what the founder of aikido meant with aikido, and its application in the world. That heavy and never-ending task should be the code of a seeker after the truth in aikido, and guide his or her actions, thoughts and words. If a person wants to do something else, that is fine too - many people split off from Aikikai and do their own thing with their followers, and this is a respectable thing to do.

FWIW
Gernot

Kevin Leavitt
06-11-2006, 07:15 AM
Neil,

What is the sprititual function of a screwdriver or hammer? It might have some fancy slogan on the side of it saying "tempered" or "quality guaranteed", or "always faithful". It describes the characteristics, and values that the company that built it hopes that it will endure and exude in the use of it.

When it comes down to it, it is simply a tool for turning screws or banging nails. It has a purpose, a very specific and narrow purpose.

Now, in the hands of the user, it might be used to build a church, it might be used to build a well in Africa, or serve any number of greater purposes, but it in itself has no purpose.

Soldiers and militaries are the same thing. Tools to serve a purpose. That is what I mean about not having a spiritual purpose. He mission of a miitary is not to serve for the spiritual needs and growth of people.

That said, soldiers are people and most modern armies recognize individualism and the need to appeal to a "higher purpose" in order to maintain good order and discipline and focus on mission.

We have values, ethics, and codes, but in the end the goal is to serve the state that we represent and have sworn allegiance to.

The state and the people it represents may have a "higher calling" or may be fighting for religious reasons, etc, but that is the purpose of the state, and not the military.

Kevin Leavitt
06-11-2006, 07:25 AM
Erick Meade wrote:

If a soldier merely slavishly follows orders he is controlling nothing, and in fact abdicating his choice to someone else. That is plainly not aiki. A warrior takes every order critically, and chooses how each such direction will end up, regardless of the intent of the one giving the order. That is aiki. Given an attack, the intended victim gets to shape the outcome. Given an order, the person executing it gets to shape the outcome.


IF only it were this simple Erick! :)

Most major orders given to commanders are along the lines of "secure a foothold at the bridge", or "establish command and control in the town". It is not "kill 100 people" or "make sure everyone is dead".

Most modern militarys focus on endstates and objectives, not individual task when issuing orders. We don't typically measure success by a body count or an individual task. This allows for a great deal of latitude in how you as a commander or soldier interprets those orders. So, each soldier or subordinate command has the flexibility and choice to decide how he/she wants to proceed to accomplish that task.

I don't see much difference in aikido. Sometimes we have the choice, given the luxury of time, skill, speed, etc, to make a choice that benefits both uke and nage. Sometimes we are suprised, overwhelmed, or outskilled by uke, and we must react, speed up, use more force than we might use in another situation.

To me being aiki does not always require that you have the ability to shape the outcome, you may not always be able to. I can think of the thousands of times in the dojo where I failed to correctly or appropriately deal with uke! What is important is to do it when we can, or to be of such character that we show compassion as best we can always considering how our actions will effect things once all is said or done.

Mark Freeman
06-11-2006, 07:39 AM
Ah well, nothing I write is truly original, anyway.

You are not alone Erick, we are all guilty of this to a greater of lesser degree. :(

Whichever thread this discussion takes place in, it is healthy that it is taking place at all.

How we 'the citizens' of the free world conduct ourselves and 'our' armies in the various 'flashpoints' around the world, will determine the shape of things to come for the foreseeable future.

Aikido provides the principles for effective engagement in conflict. It is what we do in the dojo - practice the principles over and over until they become embodied.

As I mentioned in an earlier post I may just be a wishful thinking old hippy, but when face with a problem I tend to look for a solution. Aikido philosophy provides 'a' solution, a way to deal with conflict. But to transfer that philosophy to the wider world, well alot of work has to be done. It seems that we are along way off from that yet. So we need to do what we can to spread the word and 'be the change we want to see'.

I'm sure there are many soldiers serving right now that are just as disgusted as the civilians at some of the blatant disregard for the 'accepted' rules of engagement. They have to accept it or take the consequenses ( A Royal Airforce Doctor recently refused to return to Iraq recently on the grounds that it was an illegal war and that his conscience would not allow him to go back - A Court Marshall found against him ). We the citizens do not have to accept things in the same way. We must do what we can to ensure that the 'soldiers/warriors acting on our behalf, do so with dignity. Otherwise we must step down from the position of having any moral superiority over our enemies.

Good discussion chaps, keep it respectful and real. Too much defference, results in unpalatable truths sometimes not being brought to light.

regards

Mark

Guilty Spark
06-11-2006, 09:08 AM
I don't see much difference in aikido. Sometimes we have the choice, given the luxury of time, skill, speed, etc, to make a choice that benefits both uke and nage. Sometimes we are surprised, overwhelmed, or out skilled by uke, and we must react, speed up, use more force than we might use in another situation.

Well said!

A Royal Air force Doctor recently refused to return to Iraq recently on the grounds that it was an illegal war and that his conscience would not allow him to go back

I hope no soldiers or civilians or enemy combatants died due to this doctor (who probably didn't pay for his schooling) refusal to go back.

I've never liked the whole legal illegal war argument myself. Who makes a war legal, the UN? Thats hardly reassuring.

People simply need to accept responsibility for their actions (ie voters or soldiers refusing their marching orders)
Accepting responsibility for the protection of human life is a big Aikido principal in my (thin) book.

Kevin Leavitt
06-11-2006, 09:17 AM
I had a squad leader, who was the best squad leader I every had, the epitome of a soldier, refuse to deploy. (he wasn't in my chain of command when this happened). He mobilized and deployed to the training site, but refused to go when it came time to cross the pond.

He felt that his platoon leader and company commander were idiots and were going to get people killed. Several people I know tried to talk to him about the issue to get him to reconsider. They needed him more than ever if that were the case and he should stay to protect the men that he said were at risk.

He did not feel in his good conscience that he could be apart of it.

Everyone makes his decisions. I respected his decision, albeit I was sorely disappointed that he did not go, as I agree his men needed him.

He was reduced to E-1 and given a dishonorable discharge. It was too bad as he was one of the guys that were needed to lead us in making good decsions.

Mark Freeman
06-11-2006, 09:19 AM
I hope no soldiers or civilians or enemy combatants (allied, Iraqi) died due to this doctor (who probably didn't pay for his schooling) refusal to go back.

The Doctor can't be held resposible for any death that occurs due to his acting in accord with his own conscience, he is paying the price by being 'detained at Her Majesty's pleasure'. There would be alot less death if all men acted in a similar way instead of blindly following either 'orders' or 'god's will' or any other 'external pressure'.
Good men can end up doing awful things, they need to give themselves a reason for doing so.. :(

regards,

Mark

Guilty Spark
06-11-2006, 09:57 AM
There would be a lot less death if all men acted in a similar way instead of blindly following either 'orders' or 'god's will' or any other 'external pressure'.

Oh I agree, too many people jump on the following orders bandwagon, on the flip side of the coin though can you imagine what would happen if every soldier could pick and choose what order he followed?

While I wouldn't hold this doctor responsible for any deaths (thats being a little ridiculous of course) I do feel he has a duty to his high station. Same with Kevin's example. I would bread bread with these guys any day, it takes a serious dose of courage to do what you feel is right and accept harsh consequences. However I think that sometimes whats good for the individual needs to take a back seat to whats good for group. In the two examples of the doctor and squad leader, good on them for doing what they felt is right but I can't help but wonder how many other people (who don't want to be there either) would have benefited from having them around both medically and leadership wise.
It can almsot become an argument of putting the needs of others above your own, depending on perspective. (And easily argued :) )

Neil Mick
06-11-2006, 05:54 PM
Neil,

What is the sprititual function of a screwdriver or hammer?

Kevin,

Effectively, you answer your own question...

It might have some fancy slogan on the side of it saying "tempered" or "quality guaranteed", or "always faithful". It describes the characteristics, and values that the company that built it hopes that it will endure and exude in the use of it.

So how are values and morals different from "spiritual functions?" I challenge you to come up with a spiritual discipline, devoid of values or morality (even Hedonism has its moral tenets).

When it comes down to it, it is simply a tool for turning screws or banging nails. It has a purpose, a very specific and narrow purpose.

Now, in the hands of the user, it might be used to build a church, it might be used to build a well in Africa, or serve any number of greater purposes, but it in itself has no purpose.

I disagree. The spiritual function of a tool is...a tool: a concrete means of manifesting your intangible goals. Think about all the symbolic underpinnings of a "tool," and you might see what I mean.

How you came to own the tool (did you steal them? Make them? Buy them at Safeway?) plays a role in the spiritual function, of these tool, as well: including what you plan to do with them (build a piece of art? A bridge? A tank? Break into a home?)

Come on...soldiers in years' past of all nations put great stock and symbolism into their weapons of war...their tools. I certainly don't need to go into the symbolism of the sword, to the Samurai. I'm betting that today's US soldier's also place spiritual values on their tanks, rifles, planes, etc, as well...even tho it isn't expressed that way.

Soldiers and militaries are the same thing. Tools to serve a purpose. That is what I mean about not having a spiritual purpose. He mission of a miitary is not to serve for the spiritual needs and growth of people.

No, it doesn't: I agree. But that does not mean that the spiritual function of the Army isn't there.

That said, soldiers are people and most modern armies recognize individualism and the need to appeal to a "higher purpose" in order to maintain good order and discipline and focus on mission.

We have values, ethics, and codes, but in the end the goal is to serve the state that we represent and have sworn allegiance to.

And how is this not a spiritual calling? I could use this sentence to describe the Roman Catholic Church, substituting "soldiers" for "clergy," and "state" for "God."

IMO, this IS a spiritual calling. Anytime you swear an oath to anything: you better believe that there is a spiritual function apparent.

The state and the people it represents may have a "higher calling" or may be fighting for religious reasons, etc, but that is the purpose of the state, and not the military.

Again, we can agree to disagree: but I think that at this point, some of our differences are semantical.

Neil Mick
06-11-2006, 06:17 PM
I hope no soldiers or civilians or enemy combatants died due to this doctor (who probably didn't pay for his schooling) refusal to go back.

I've never liked the whole legal illegal war argument myself. Who makes a war legal, the UN? Thats hardly reassuring.

Grant,

I could go on about the illegality of this war: but you've probably heard it all already.

But I will comment on the "spiritual," or "great cause" that this war is being fought over.

If there really IS such a great cause to this war: then why is it so hard for the White House to articulate what it is? Cindy Sheehan hounds Bush for an answer: and he cannot give her one.

If the leaders are unable to clarify what our "great cause" is; if they are unable to coherently detail what are the legal rules of engagement--then how are the soldiers on the ground supposed to parse all this out?

And, how does Aikido philosophy fit into fighting a war with a vague "cause?" (the closest I can figure what this "cause" is, is some sort of "crusade." But it would be a bad political move for W to articulate this out loud, considering where we are, in the world).

Mark Freeman
06-12-2006, 05:15 AM
And, how does Aikido philosophy fit into fighting a war with a vague "cause?" (the closest I can figure what this "cause" is, is some sort of "crusade." But it would be a bad political move for W to articulate this out loud, considering where we are, in the world).

Aikido stance/posture is one of being upright, prepared, relaxed, open, focused and centered. The hands are open offering a non confrontational image ( as opposed to the closed fist ). The being in this stance must embody the principles of aikido otherwise it is just an outward show.

It is easy to see where the protagonists in the latest round of hostilities are not being 'aiki'. From a 'muscle' point of view the US is the largest most powerful military force on the planet, but unfortunately the 'mind' moving the muscle is not enlightened or developed enough to consider aiki principles.

An example of an aikido principle is "know your partners mind". When Mr Bush used the term 'Crusade' early on in the post 9/11 tub thumping. He did not consider how much of a provocation that would be in the world outside, his sense of history only seems to go as far back as his being 're-born'. Offering to crush or annihilate, does nothing to calm the situation. Admittedly it must be hard for someone brought up in such great privilege to "know the mind" of the 'terrorists' but unless the attempt is made, the same problems will just be repeated ad infinitum.

In the same way that a smaller more skillfull aikidoka can handle a larger more powerfull opponent, the smaller enemy can negate the muscle of one with the largest 'firepower' by not fighting on the same terms. The re-emergence of the Taliban is a case in point, these people have a nearly a 1000 years of fighting history to draw on. And you can't bomb an 'ideology into extinction.

The vested interests in maintaining conflict and war, may be far too widespread and powerfull to consider that the ideals of the 'art of peace' have a chance of being employed. There is great profit to be had in 'fighting'. It is obvious and well documented. The US military is already talking in terms of the 'Long War' being fought for 20 years or so. Those who profit from conflict must be rubbing their grubby little hands together in glee. :disgust:

When you see a war to be fought and won whether it be against terror, drugs or poverty etc. you are not approaching the problem with an aikido mindset. We have to look at these issues and apply intelligence, cooperation, and a sense of compassion to the proceedings. Given the current state of play, we have got enough to keep us busy for many years to come.

We live in an interesting time in history chaps. We communicate with each other on this forum, one to one, from all around the globe. The internet has changed how we communicate for ever. We must use this tool for good. The greater the information passed amongs all of us at the ground level the less chance that we can be miss-led by propaganda from our 'leaders'.

It's Monday morning and I got out of bed on the wrong side! :(

regards,

Mark

Erick Mead
06-12-2006, 11:36 AM
It is easy to see where the protagonists in the latest round of hostilities are not being 'aiki'. From a 'muscle' point of view the US is the largest most powerful military force on the planet, but unfortunately the 'mind' moving the muscle is not enlightened or developed enough to consider aiki principles.

An example of an aikido principle is "know your partners mind". Acceptance of those results that tend toward harmony and reduce total discord are true Aiki. The overall judgment of the case cannot be made with either an overly narrow or an overall generalized view. History will judge us all, for good or ill, both those who support and those who oppose the current conflict. Be not quick to judge, therefore ....

The moral case is made out in the larger picture as well as in the immediate circumstance. Willy-nilly acceptance of the intended results of others does not result in harmony, but merely forestalls and deepens eventual conflict. Complex and subtle motivations are often lost or overcome in simple deeds, for good or ill. The best of intentions is the often the preface to disaster.

This is one reason why Aiki is such an effective response to violence, despite its antihetical position in comparison to the modern expecation of predictive, testable, repeatable results. Its predictive horizons are exceedingly short, precisely because it does not need them. Battle is still ruled by contingency and caprice. The effort in Iraq, with Iran, and with jihadism generally, is bound to such contingencies. It is the criticism of many that the inital reason for action may have changed, and the present stance seems ill-poised for predicitable victory timetable. Sorry, that is war.

We do not complain when the threatened shomneuchi morphs into a munetsuki. We simply abandon the shomenuchi in our response and address the mnunetsuki now presented. We aikidoka beat this out of ourselves the moment we quit asking "which foot should I have forward?" We should judge our war councils in no less favorable light, for they will answer to us eventually. The same is not true of the war councils of the enemy.

{Re: Taliban} these people have a nearly a 1000 years of fighting history to draw on.

And we do not? My Celtic forebears have been fighting westward across the globe now for nigh on three thousand. We're getting pretty good at it, actually.

And you can't bomb an ideology into extinction. Been to Japan lately? That was mass exercise of Aiki of the first water. Yamato damashii, indeed. So far, a number of bombings have caused the surrender or near surrender of a great number of people and governments in the rightness of defending and promoting ordered liberty and popular government. Spain being a case in point.

Aiki is not submission, even though it is in a narrow, technical sense, non-resistance. Submission may be victory; resistance may be death. The converse can also be true. Submission can mean good things. As in the case of Japan. This can mean bad things. In the case of global jihadism, their aim is nothing less than the submission of all to their view of God, and for whom resistance to their particular direction means justifiable death. Not aiki in my book either.

When you see a war to be fought and won whether it be against terror, drugs or poverty etc. you are not approaching the problem with an aikido mindset. ...
We have to look at these issues and apply intelligence, cooperation, and a sense of compassion to the proceedings. When someone girds on a sword, it is not ill-considered to think it means war. When civilians are specifically targeted, it is not ill-considered to view the means of that war to be evil and dishonorable. To merely assume an enemy will not use his sword, is not aiki. To assume that an enemy will respond to reason and persuasion, is not aiki.

Aiki does not persuade, it does not chasten, it does not bully. Aiki comes into its own when the enemy strikes. Aiki waits for action and then does act, and with devastating effect to remove the foundational premises of the enemy's attack, using the enemy's own power against him.

The heart of the enemy's power lies in the oppression of the people, which has existed for centuries, and which they promise to relieve using the the same tools by which the people themselves have been exploited by tyrants -- terror. This is the strategic connection between Al-qaida, the Taliban, Iraq, Libya and yes, Iran. As ideology it is false; as method it is ugly, and would merely continue the opression of the people, were they to win. No person coming to power by such means has ever surrendered the use of them to maintain it. Never.

The foundational premise of Jihadism is not aiki. Its chief strategic criteria are two: compulsion of its opponents by means of fear and intimidation, and to inspire its supporters by spectacular acts of symbolic vengeance for past oppression. It cannot prevail by means of the first alone; it cannot survive at all without the second. By means of the action against Hussein and the Taliban we demonstrated that we would not tolerate regimes of terror. In Libya we demonstrated that our goal was not subjugation. This is the first delivery of a promise to the people at large. We can remove sources of oppression without becoming one.

How does one respond in aiki to the victims of this fear and terror who are in harm's way? The first answer is that you CANNOT lead them from harm's way. Budo should teach us by now, that there is almost no way by direct opposition in defense to stop anyone committed to killing from carrying out their objective if they disregard their own life. A walkking deadman will still kill you. Only irimi and aiki will save you from such attack.

The nature of the enemy's weapons does not allow us victory in terms of their first criterion. The only option is to establish a situation in which fear and terror are progressively de-legitimized in the eyes of its victims, and therefore do not inspire support. Then the enemy will be defeated because people themselves hound it out, not before.

The people must first feel the exercise of their own power, which they have been prevented from for centuries. This cannot happen without help. The enemy will not abandon his first criterion, and he must be engaged to minimize his impact there, but we cannot win on that ground alone. This cannot happen unless governments responsible to the people they govern exist in the region exploited by jihadism. It is a precondition to victory.

It still may not work. This is the point of the propaganda war against the U.S. by means of our failures at Abu Ghraib and in other, less graphic incidents -- to rebut this case. Those are failures without doubt. It is the reason three jihadists just commited coordinated suicide at Guantanamo top further their own cause. They understand the calculus of terror and oppression, and they have demonstrated an committed ability to exercise both its affirmative and negative modes.

But everything we are doing is done with that end in mind despite the failures. We are doing aiki there, albeit by fits and starts.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Demetrio Cereijo
06-12-2006, 11:55 AM
So far, a number of bombings have caused the surrender or near surrender of a great number of people and governments in the rightness of defending and promoting ordered liberty and popular government. Spain being a case in point.

Respectfuly disagree.

We didn't surrender to the jihadism, we defeated a government who was opposing the sovereign spanish people's will and manipulating/hiding info about the bombings.

Regards,
Demetrio

Jun,
Sorry for cooperating to the thread hijack, but i felt the need of pointing that as a spanish citizen (with celtic ancestors, btw).

billybob
06-12-2006, 02:03 PM
Grant,

It warms my heart to hear someone who is putting himself in harm's way so that I can be safe - ask the questions you are asking. I think you need no training from me, sir.

In extreme situations, the entire universe becomes our foe; at such critical times, unity of mind and technique is essential - do not let your heart waver!"- OSensei.

To me this means - get up when you fall down. If your heart despairs from what you see or do, remember who you are.

david

Kevin Leavitt
06-12-2006, 02:03 PM
Neil wrote:

I'm betting that today's US soldier's also place spiritual values on their tanks, rifles, planes, etc, as well...even tho it isn't expressed that way.

No they don't. My M4 carbine that is loaded with all the latest technology, lasers, and night vision sites etc is a tool that I use to do my job. My job is based on the missions that my "higher" command issues to me to do. I would make decisions based on that mission about the proper way to employ that weapon. I have a great deal of training that allows me to make decisions about what constitutes a lawful and ethical order.

My orders from the military come from civilians that are placed in there position by the President of the United States, who is in all effect (debatable I know), elected by the people of the United States.

Not sure where spirituality fits in to that equation.

I certainly have my own beliefs (spiritual, ethics, and values), that I must reconcile with the above. No doubt that in order to maintain good order and discipline we must appeal to these things as both a military and a society.

However, that is a distinct difference from the Military serving a spiritual function.

Now the leaders and popular opinion that may send us to war may be based on a underlying belief system or "religion", (I'd argue that capitalism to a degree is a spiritual value actually Neil), or something along those lines.

So, if you want to affect change, it should not be directed at the military, but at society at large as that is the driving force behind the "tool" of the military. We really don't make our own decisions on a Macro level.

(this is why I said I tend not to focus on the whole Gestalt of the thing).

Erick Mead
06-12-2006, 03:42 PM
Respectfuly disagree.

We didn't surrender to the jihadism, we defeated a government who was opposing the sovereign spanish people's will and manipulating/hiding info about the bombings.

Jun,
Sorry for cooperating to the thread hijack, but i felt the need of pointing that as a spanish citizen (with celtic ancestors, btw). I really don't think this is a hijack. How can aiki be relevant outside the dojo unless we think practically about how it may be used, or perhaps has been used, to reach happier reults from very bad beginnings?

All due respect to Demetrio, my Celtic and Iberian cousin could not be worthy of the name, without defending his own. Gonzalez and Moreno on my mother's side. We've been in Florida since before it was ceded by the Spanish Crown.

Was the Spanish election an exercise of aiki, though, or not? It may be as you say, and the adjustment needed to be made. But it did not play that way outside of Spain. Certainly, it was not perceived as you say in the Souq. The Moorish conflict with Christian Spain is not an idle cultural memory any more than mention of the Crusades (which made me just cringe in my seat.) Such references where they are made available to the enemy will be and have been exploited. Very poor aiki on both points, in my view, like sticking your elbow up in ikkyo, you might as well shout, "Come and get it!".

I despise politics. But then maybe I have never yet seen politics practiced with aiki, at least, not outside of a setting of war. There, I can think of a few examples.

The collective acceptance of occupation by the Japanese people at the end of WWII was preeminently aiki. The model of approach used by McArthur was aiki too. He made the emperor the price of empire. They explicitly chose the emperor as the one unspoken but absolute condition of otherwise complete surrender.

McArthur used the Yamato Damashii cult itself, the very engine of the Japanese war effort, to sever the connection between emperor and the imperial ambitions of the Japanese political regime, without severing the ties of sovereignty felt between the people and their emperor. Hirohito deserves much credit here as well. The result is a worthy tribute to both sides.

How else can aiki be applied at small or large scales in the context of the present conflict? Let's not get into personality bashing (and certinaly not any detestable politics). Can we look at given issues, small scale or large scale, and see if we have anything useful and practial to offer from a perspecitve of aiki that will aid in a happier result?

If the enemy will not go away, then wishing it were so is not aiki. Analogizing principles or techniques is the way we expand our repertoire anyway.

Any takers?

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Neil Mick
06-12-2006, 05:26 PM
No they don't. My M4 carbine that is loaded with all the latest technology, lasers, and night vision sites etc is a tool that I use to do my job. My job is based on the missions that my "higher" command issues to me to do. I would make decisions based on that mission about the proper way to employ that weapon. I have a great deal of training that allows me to make decisions about what constitutes a lawful and ethical order.

My orders from the military come from civilians that are placed in there position by the President of the United States, who is in all effect (debatable I know), elected by the people of the United States.

Not sure where spirituality fits in to that equation.

For weapons and tools: think about the Japanese concept of kami. Now (as I understand it), kami inhabit all things, even have personalities.

Of course, the West doesn't believe in kami: but we do have an analogue...we imbue our cars, our tanks, our weapons with personalities.

What were the names of the weapons that fell on Nagasaki and Hiroshima? Fat Man and Little Boy.

Why are cars mostly given female names, and people talk about their cars as if they were people?

Now, please: go on and tell me that soldiers don't call their tanks names; don't engage in fanciful imaginings of machines, having personalities.

But, OK: you might well say that this is not proof of a belief in the spiritual, and I say that it is. If you look at how we, as individuals and as a culture, fetish'ize, anthropomorphize, and advertise cars and trace these beliefs to their roots in our collective and individual psyche's, then I think we'd agree that yes, there is a spirtuality inherent in the way ppl treat their cars.

And if their cars, why not tanks?

Taking an oath is the same thing...look at what you are doing, as an oathtaker. Think about the symbolic underpinnings of taking an oath. What pictures come to mind? Arthur and Medieval knights? A court of law? Standing next to a flag?

I mean, if there were no symbol or spirituality inherent, then why bother with the whole "raise your hand: repeat after me" nonsense? Why not just sign a piece of paper? A verbal oath does nothing concrete, save reinforce the seriousness of the job.

Now, about the spirituality inherent in an organization...just look to their motto's. Is not the Army (police force, etc) referred to as a "brotherhood?" Are there not fraternal organizations inherent in the Army, police, colleges and some High Schools?

I mean, be honest, Kevin: even the Boy Scouts admits to a spirituality, in its undertakings. They don't ship kids out to the woods, just to get some fresh air.

Now the leaders and popular opinion that may send us to war may be based on a underlying belief system or "religion", (I'd argue that capitalism to a degree is a spiritual value actually Neil), or something along those lines.

Absolutely: capitalism is a spiritual value!

So, if you want to affect change, it should not be directed at the military, but at society at large as that is the driving force behind the "tool" of the military. We really don't make our own decisions on a Macro level.

I disagree. The Pentagon does a number of things totally on its own. Also, a large part of why the Vietnam War ended was due to the increasing rumblings within the Army itself.

But, I do agree on the efficacy of directing cries for change at society, rather than the military.

When protestors disobey orders to disperse and, say: blockade recruiting sites, they aren't trying to affect change through the military, they are trying to reach out to society, rather than through the military.

(this is why I said I tend not to focus on the whole Gestalt of the thing).

IMHO: your loss. ;)

Mark Freeman
06-12-2006, 05:38 PM
My orders from the military come from civilians that are placed in there position by the President of the United States, who is in all effect (debatable I know), elected by the people of the United States.

Not sure where spirituality fits in to that equation.



Well Kevin, your debatably elected President and by default your Commader in Chief, has openly talked about his taking oders from a 'higher source' or words to that effect. His intensely 'personal spirituality' has a bearing on his deeds/actions. Badly chosen words like 'crusade' slip from his lips, showing his leanings, there by reminding us of his questionable suitability for the head man's job.
Just bringing it up as you said you were unsure. ;)

regards,

Mark

statisticool
06-12-2006, 06:00 PM
Person A tells Person B to shoot someone. Person B does and and justifies it with 'I was just taking orders.'.

Any other sphere and A and B might be in trouble.

Mark Freeman
06-12-2006, 06:57 PM
The collective acceptance of occupation by the Japanese people at the end of WWII was preeminently aiki. The model of approach used by McArthur was aiki too. He made the emperor the price of empire. They explicitly chose the emperor as the one unspoken but absolute condition of otherwise complete surrender.

McArthur used the Yamato Damashii cult itself, the very engine of the Japanese war effort, to sever the connection between emperor and the imperial ambitions of the Japanese political regime, without severing the ties of sovereignty felt between the people and their emperor. Hirohito deserves much credit here as well. The result is a worthy tribute to both sides.

How else can aiki be applied at small or large scales in the context of the present conflict? Let's not get into personality bashing (and certinaly not any detestable politics). Can we look at given issues, small scale or large scale, and see if we have anything useful and practial to offer from a perspecitve of aiki that will aid in a happier result?

If the enemy will not go away, then wishing it were so is not aiki. Analogizing principles or techniques is the way we expand our repertoire anyway.

Any takers?

Cordially,
Erick Mead

The post second world war saw both Japan and Germany rebuilt into productive peaceful countries, with much credit needing to be paid to the US for the many $$'s that it took and for the leadership in Mc Arthur and Marshall. Aiki in action? yes I would say, but in the case of Japan, only after the double atemi blows dealt by little Little Boy and Fat Man. An Aikido teacher may admonish the student for being 'too forceful', but remember it was WWII aikido, and the 'softer style was yet to come.

As O Sensei got older and 'perhaps' wiser? his aikido became 'softer' but no less powerful. As the priciples of aikido were in him, they also expanded. His early martial ability and effectiveness is accepted. And through this the priciples were developed.
I think but am not entirely sure, that many MA Masters tend to move towards the deeper and more subtle levels that the arts inherently posess - surely this is logical and it's why they are called art's.

Perhaps the seeds of the transformation of global 'hard style' to global 'soft style' are sown in a worldwider cyber dojo 'right here'.

It must be our responsibility as aikidoka to translate the principles of aikido to the wider world. It's not going to happen on it's own.

I practice with the 5 priciples of practicing ki aikido in the dojo.

1. Extending your mind
2. Know your partners mind
3. Respect your partners ki
4. Put yourself in your partners place
5. Perform with confidence.

They are pretty straightforward and the non aikido world can easily understand them if you substute 'will' or 'intent' ( or any other suitable word ) for the untranslatable 'ki'. The corporate world is already working in an aiki way, they already practice the principles in the best run companies.
An example of corporate aikido:
VW and Ford were competitors in a fierce marketplace, but they shared their resources to build a common vehicle. They still competed with each other but they both benefitted through lower costs.

I personally believe through my own experience, and the fact that I am a commited secularist, these priciples are as close to 'truth' as I am going to get.

By practicing these priciples in the dojo, we can achieve improvement as human beings, albeit slow and hard won, and also have alot of fun in the process.

IMO These priciples can be applied to all human interaction, micro and macro. We are pest placed to put these principles into our own lives, then, and only then can we go out with our candle into the world.

We as akidoka are not the warriors we like to think we are, if we don't aspire to be one of the ones 'fighting' for "the loving protection of all things" that O Sensei said aikido was for.

Something to mull over maybe?

regards,

Mark

p.s. I still reserve the right to have a good moan about things though ;)

statisticool
06-12-2006, 08:06 PM
Re: trying to call a skunk a cat, I mean, talking about war and bombs as if they are compatible with aikido techniques, the page

http://www.aikidofaq.com/interviews.html

shows


O Sensei: The ultimate goal of Aiki is creation of heaven on earth. In any case, the entire world must be in harmony. Then we do not have a need for atomic and hydrogen bombs. It can be a comfortable and pleasant world.

billybob
06-13-2006, 07:07 AM
I am going to give advice; this is not my opinion.

Honor the warrior, detest the war.

This way those of us who served, those who fought, were injured, killed in battle, those noncombatants and civilians upon whom horrors are visited - are not disrespected.

David

SeiserL
06-13-2006, 07:35 AM
So, if you want to affect change, it should not be directed at the military, but at society at large as that is the driving force behind the "tool" of the military. We really don't make our own decisions on a Macro level.(this is why I said I tend not to focus on the whole Gestalt of the thing).

Ah, IMHO, here we get closer to the truth as I see it. Quit looking at the symptom, war, and start looking at the cause. The military does not start wars, it fights them. Society is the collective minds of the majority of the individuals. Fear and pain in the mind of the individual effects society. Change the mind, not others, but our own. The mind is the tool of change.

When I served, I did what I was told and what I was trained to do. It saved my life and those with me. Too much thought caused hesitation and death.

We can all think and express idealistic views from our relative safety because some one is standing guard and watching our backs. Domo arigato.

Erick Mead
06-13-2006, 08:53 AM
Re: trying to call a skunk a cat, I mean, talking about war and bombs as if they are compatible with aikido techniques, the page

http://www.aikidofaq.com/interviews.html

shows The ultimate goal of Aiki is creation of heaven on earth. In any case, the entire world must be in harmony. Then we do not have a need for atomic and hydrogen bombs. It can be a comfortable and pleasant world. Please note the stated condition:

"Heaven on earth"/"entire world... in harmony" --- "THEN" we do not need atomic weapons.

Still working on the harmonious preconditions, I am afraid.

The moral case of the only use of atomic weapons vice worse casualties, to both sides, (by an order of magnitude, at least) by invasion of Japan, and the noted use of Aiki (on both sides) in reaching the ultimate surrender of the Japanese without further bloodshed are all very instructive cases.

The Cuban Missile crisis may also be a case in point. It was very much Aiki for Kennedy to choose tenkan and respond only to the first telegram, but it only worked because of the full commitment to the irimi before, which prompted it.

The (send a message) economic model of sanctions agasint Iraq, Iran and North Korea and the related (send a message) military model of Vietnam represent the opposite (and demonstrably failed) alternative. They were tentative negotiating tools. Aiki may be (rigorous) negotiation, but it can never be tentative; the atemi is always implied and ready to be actualized.

Either one enters (irimi) with everything, and/or performs tenkan completely, or no technique can be effective because you will never reach the center of the conflict, but remain entirely on its periphery.

The difference is simply that in irimi I bring the center to my opponent, and in tenkan he brings the center to me. Either way I commit entirely to becoming the center.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

jonreading
06-13-2006, 11:23 AM
My grandfather served in as a Marine in WWII. He always said that when you fight in a war, you fight because your friends (fellow Marines) die if you did not. He never mentioned personal glory or country, but he talked about honor and courage. He knew many of the Marines that beached Normandy and these Marines knew they would die as soon as the doors from their amphibeous vehicle opened, but they did it anyway.

Why is that story relevant? Irregardless of the stated purpose of war, it is ugly and violent and terrible. Then there are those that fight with courage and honor, and those warriors are beacons of light that inspire others to be more than they are. Budo is the way of the warrior, aikido is training that warrior to be a symbol for others to emulate. Courage is the reason why we need budo in war; courage is the bane of terror.

Courage is that little voice that tells you to do something in the presence of knowledge that contradicts your survival instincts. Bravery is the little voice that tells you to do something that you are confident you can accomplish. Honor is the little voice that tells you the manner in which you set about accomplishing a goal.

Kevin Leavitt
06-13-2006, 02:33 PM
Jon wrote:

My grandfather served in as a Marine in WWII. He always said that when you fight in a war, you fight because your friends (fellow Marines) die if you did not. He never mentioned personal glory or country, but he talked about honor and courage.

That is true. I serve these days for no other reason, but really very selfish reasons, for myself and my family, to provide for them. I would fight not for them, but for myself and for the soldiers I serve with.

God knows I am not fighting for the self involved that drive huge SUVs, smoking cigarettes, while talking on the cell phone and drinking a Starbucks...all at the same time..that think they have "real problems" because their Realtor got too much money when they sold there house for a huge profit.

The people I serve with are good, honest, and caring people. I owe them to be the best officer I can be, and to do my job which is making sure they are trained properly and have what they need to do there jobs! It really is that simple.

Lynn, thanks for your comments....they are at the core of the issue!

By the way, you haven't lived until you have physically carried an 80 year old veteran down the steps of the sea wall on Omaha beach, Sector DOG, in the Verville draw, to the same place he landed 60 years ago and had not been back since then. He was the one of the few survivors from his platoon. I did this two years ago on 6 JUN 04 at 0600 in the morning.

It was the single most humbling and spiritual experience I have ever had in my whole life.

If you cannot appreciate and respect what these fine gentlemen did for each other and the cause then there honestly is something wrong with you!

It is not about the killing or violence of war, but about compassion and courage.

Erick Mead
06-13-2006, 02:51 PM
My grandfather served in as a Marine in WWII. He always said that when you fight in a war, you fight because your friends (fellow Marines) die if you did not. He never mentioned personal glory or country, but he talked about honor and courage
....
Budo is the way of the warrior, aikido is training that warrior to be a symbol for others to emulate. Courage is the reason why we need budo in war; courage is the bane of terror. The end of Black Hawk Down expressed much of your grandfather's same sentiment about why men fight. If only we could bottle it for civilian consumption. The British response to the attempt at terror during the Blitz was remarkable -- precisely because it was unremarkable -- the vast majority simply carried on as though rubble of the last night's bombing were nothing more than an inconvenient rain. If we could muster that courage collectively, terrorists efforts would be fruitless and soon abandoned. A very deep tenkan-tenkai.

Unfortunately, two things, one most un-aiki-like, intervene in the generla applicaiton of this scenario.

First, there is the inevitable application of the political syllogism:

1) Something must be done.
2) This is something.
3) Therefore, this must be done.

Second, the applicability of strategems or techniques depend on range and effect of weapons at different scales. Change the weapon OR change the scale, and the stratagem must change to fit. The center of the conflict thus changes and the technique must change with it to remain aiki.

Bottom line -- terrorists (short of WMD's) cannot kill enough of us by old-fashioned bombing campaigns to do significant social or economic harm unless we ourselves contribute to it by our reactions, which they count upon, and we have obliged under the rubric of the political syllogism.

All things being equal -- an Aiki response to simple bombing terror would be to mourn the slain and honor them by going on with life as though we had not noticed the reason why they died, as the British did in WWII. Of course, they were waiting for a really BIG irimi.

The most disconcerting thing to do to an unarmed attacker is to stand there placidly waiting for him -- let him miss you through proper maai --- then stand placidly again, waiting to see what he wants to do now... Tenkan, once again.

Of course, he might have a knife. The issue of unstable and technogically savvy regimes is what ups the ante, and the mere hint that WMD's are on the table does not make the foregoing response a good strategy. Even with two swordsmen the calculus is vastly different. To rely solely on taijutsu and maai as evasion against a swordsman will get you killed. Run fast away or irimi like hell because you have no other choice, but you cannot just stand there. Running away is not surrender. It is irimi -- along the other leg of a Great Circle route. Remember -- we can do aikido on BIG Circles.

Libya, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, all posed some of these same problems. The fact that different solutions have been used in attempting to address each one is remarkable. Whether it is Aiki remains to be seen, since we are not yet privy to all of the concerns driving each of the different specific stratagems or techniques being employed.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Mark Freeman
06-13-2006, 03:47 PM
By the way, you haven't lived until you have physically carried an 80 year old veteran down the steps of the sea wall on Omaha beach, Sector DOG, in the Verville draw, to the same place he landed 60 years ago and had not been back since then. He was the one of the few survivors from his platoon. I did this two years ago on 6 JUN 04 at 0600 in the morning.

It was the single most humbling and spiritual experience I have ever had in my whole life.

If you cannot appreciate and respect what these fine gentlemen did for each other and the cause then there honestly is something wrong with you!

It is not about the killing or violence of war, but about compassion and courage.

Good post Kevin,

I can't imagine that there are many alive that do not resepct the people who gave their lives in the last global conflict. They did not perish in vain. The world is a better place for their sacrifice.

Life is so precious yet so tenuous, some of us are so fortunate to live the lives we do. Many live free lives with our families and friends, working, practicing aikido, and generally having a pretty decent time. There are many in the world who are not nearly so fortunate. The more evenly balanced that this becomes, the less conflict there will be.

I look forward to the time when the dominant military force is a 'global peace keeping army'. I hesitate to suggest under the command of the UN as that body in itself is not as effective as it should be, if not them thenb we need to create something that is. We must move beyond 1 State having the ability to invade another country for it's own reasons, even if it does have some support from others.
All 'invasions' need to have massive global backing, and the raison d'etre needs to be to contain any 'rouges' inside their own borders.

I may be an old hippy at heart, but I accept the use of 'violence' in times of war, but as Erick mentions in his post for aiki to be present, the irimi-atemi or the tenkan and lead must be swift, powerful and effective. The 'body' of the military are the men like Kevin and others on these fora, they are better trained and equiped than any other soldiers in history. They are good men doing a tough job. The 'mind' of the military are the generals and politicians. It is here that the change has to take place. If this 'student' came into the dojo most teachers would immediately come to the conclusion that their body is in good shape but the mind could do with some 'training'.

In the current conflict, 'intelligence' was the dominant justifier for invasion. This has since been seen and accepted as unsound.
The invasion was swift and hard, but harmony has not been achieved 'yet'. Lack of forward planning, some bad decisions in the immediate aftermath, and we are left with a conflict that has 'gone to ground' and both sides seem to be digging in for the long term.
Not good aiki, the 'body' is still engaged in the tussle but the mind is a bit 'confused' not quite knowing how to overcome the opponent.

This is an interesting thread, aikido and its relevancy in global warfare, now we are really talking :)

regards

Mark

Neil Mick
06-13-2006, 03:58 PM
We can all think and express idealistic views from our relative safety because some one is standing guard and watching our backs. Domo arigato.

Yes, we can all think and express idealistic views about the military, as well. We can reverently pause and bow our heads for the security that we are granted, and ignore all of the rest of the actions of the US military, inside and out of the US.

Sometimes, those backs protecting us are turned around, the soldiers used to threaten us internally, as well. Is this the fault of the military? No, of course not (it is, as Kevin pointed out, merely a tool): but it is disingenuous to hallow an institution while ignoring its excesses.

And while I'm no expert on the subject, I believe that expressing one's views sometimes takes as much courage, as putting on a uniform and taking orders for one's country. Sure, people have died for protecting our freedoms, but people have also died for speaking truth to power.

Perhaps the bravest folks are those already in uniform, speaking truth to power. Consider this film:

Sir. No Sir (http://www.sirnosir.com/)

Mark Freeman
06-13-2006, 03:59 PM
The end of Black Hawk Down expressed much of your grandfather's same sentiment about why men fight. If only we could bottle it for civilian consumption. The British response to the attempt at terror during the Blitz was remarkable -- precisely because it was unremarkable -- the vast majority simply carried on as though rubble of the last night's bombing were nothing more than an inconvenient rain. If we could muster that courage collectively, terrorists efforts would be fruitless and soon abandoned. A very deep tenkan-tenkai.

My dad and his family lived in central London during the Blitz. He used to tell me about having to go down into the Underground train stations to sleep on the platforms, no knowing each morning whether they would find their house still standing. He told me about a guy who abjectly refused to go down there as he was of a mind that said "stuff the gerry, I'm sleeping in my own bed!". One night the house next door was flattened leaving him still in his bed, but missing one of the walls!
They did live through awfull times, but I do envy them the sense of 'community' that they felt with each other. It still remains with those still alive today.

regards

Mark

Erick Mead
06-13-2006, 04:17 PM
Yes, we can all think and express idealistic views about the military, as well. We can reverently pause and bow our heads for the security that we are granted, and ignore all of the rest of the actions of the US military, inside and out of the US.

And while I'm no expert on the subject, I believe that expressing one's views sometimes takes as much courage, as putting on a uniform and taking orders for one's country. Sure, people have died for protecting our freedoms, but people have also died for speaking truth to power. Liberty lives upon the edge of a knife. In every way you can construe that phrase.

Law will not protect you, though law is why you fight. Speech will not protect you, though speech is why you fight. Love will not protect those you love, though love of them is why you fight.

Aiki demands that we remain poised there on that narrow edge -- precisely to be free -- free of the attack so that we may fight, and free to preserve that for which we fight.

Cordially
Erick Mead

Neil Mick
06-13-2006, 10:01 PM
Liberty lives upon the edge of a knife. In every way you can construe that phrase.

Law will not protect you, though law is why you fight. Speech will not protect you, though speech is why you fight. Love will not protect those you love, though love of them is why you fight.

Aiki demands that we remain poised there on that narrow edge -- precisely to be free -- free of the attack so that we may fight, and free to preserve that for which we fight.

Cordially
Erick Mead

Good response. I might differ on the small points; but in the main...kudos, Erick.

Neil Mick
06-14-2006, 01:15 PM
As a (possibly) final thought...

Yesterday during warmups, I asked my (Middle School) students to define what is a warrior (this thread-topic got me thinking along those lines).

"Someone who is very strong, and powerful!" one answered.

"Good," I said. "Anyone else?"

"Someone who is never afraid."

"But, isn't fear something everyone feels, now and again? Maybe it's about not letting fear rule his actions?" I suggested. Oh yeah, they muttered thoughtfully.

"A warrior is someone who acts on his own and never puts on a uniform," my problem-child chirped brightly.

"But," I countered, "what about a warrior who joins the Army? Is he no longer a warrior, just because he puts on a uniform?" Thoughtful noddings of heads, in response.

"I'd like you to consider this definition: 'a warrior is someone who gets things done... someone who acts with integrity.'

Now, let's act like warriors at the end of class, and let's all put the mats away together and make sure our gi's are properly hung, instead of lying about the floor."

After warmups, we had our last class for the season. They tested, bowed out, and (for once, diverging from the usual chaotic silliness) put away the mats and hung their gi's in record time.

Kevin Leavitt
06-14-2006, 02:03 PM
Neil wrote:

I believe that expressing one's views sometimes takes as much courage, as putting on a uniform and taking orders for one's country. Sure, people have died for protecting our freedoms, but people have also died for speaking truth to power.

I agree. I tend to have much more respect for people along these lines than i do for any other. If I had to say I joined the military to defend anything, it would be to defend these people and the ideals that they represent. MLK, Rosa Parks, Ghandi, and others.

(yea I know Ghandi was not an American! I may be an infantryman, but I still have some culture!) :)

billybob
06-14-2006, 03:06 PM
Kevin,

Thanks for that one. I hold those 'silly' ideas about freedom too. Maybe we're all hippies. Not so bad a thing.

Not bad for an infantryman, ay Neil?

david

statisticool
06-14-2006, 04:34 PM
It is not about the killing or violence of war, but about compassion and courage.

A problem is that all sides involved think in this manner (glorify war) so the killing continues.

Neil Mick
06-14-2006, 06:36 PM
Neil wrote:
I agree. I tend to have much more respect for people along these lines than i do for any other. If I had to say I joined the military to defend anything, it would be to defend these people and the ideals that they represent. MLK, Rosa Parks, Ghandi, and others.

(yea I know Ghandi was not an American! I may be an infantryman, but I still have some culture!) :)


Kevin,

Thanks for that one. I hold those 'silly' ideas about freedom too. Maybe we're all hippies. Not so bad a thing.

Not bad for an infantryman, ay Neil?

david

Ok, stop it. All this blending is makin' me dizzy. :cool:

:ai: :ki: :do:

Erick Mead
06-14-2006, 08:33 PM
David Knowlton wrote:
Kevin,

Thanks for that one. I hold those 'silly' ideas about freedom too. Maybe we're all hippies. Not so bad a thing.

On Earth Day this year our dojo did a demonstration we had practiced for, aikido with several weapons techniques, iaijutsu, kendo, naginata-do. etc.

My thirteen year-old son asked me , "Dad? Earth Day? Is that that thing with the hippies? "

I replied, "Yes."
"But we're the hippies with swords."

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Mark Freeman
06-15-2006, 12:16 PM
Maybe we're all hippies. Not so bad a thing. we're the hippies with swords."

I feel like I'm among friends - One Love! brothers & sisters :D

peace

Mark

Kevin Leavitt
06-16-2006, 03:18 PM
Justin wrote:



Kevin Leavitt wrote:
It is not about the killing or violence of war, but about compassion and courage.

A problem is that all sides involved think in this manner (glorify war) so the killing continues

Go back and read my post carefully. I am not talking about a macroscopic view of war in which society dehumanizes the enemy and develops an emotional idealogy to keep popular opinion motivated to sustain a war effort, that happens in all wars that I can think of. I am talking about on the interpersonal level of soldiers and why they fight.

You won't find too many soldiers that when you get down to it that will fight for glory, they fight to survive the battle, avoid shame, and to protect the ones they love. They may believe in an ideal such as the U.S constitution, but in reality, it is probably not why they decide to stick it out and do their job. Patriotism is a wonderful initial motivator though, and a tool on the road to war!

I do recommend you read David Grossman's book "on Killing" if you are interested in the subject.

Psychologically, soldiers traditionally go through a "detachment" to cope with emotions. They do this in a number of ways, dehumanizing, objectifying, rationalizing, idealizing, and such. IMO, this is not WHY they fight, but HOW they cope.

Big difference.

If you've ever been to war or in battle of some kind, you don't really glorify it to much. You survive it as best you can. The glorifying thing is for the media and popular opinion back home.

Keep in mind, at least in the U.S and most western world militaries, it is the civilians that put and support the soldiers on the battlefield. Soldiers don't choose to go necessarily. Typically as soon as they are told to stop killing they do (most at least). Most of us are not sociopaths.

The killing goes on for social, economic, emotional, and ideological reasons for the most part....not for the glory of war in and of itself. The problem of war and killing is much, much more complicated than for the glory....that only occurs in John Wayne movies for the most part.

War should never be glorified. As I stated I am more impressed with those that have the courage to stand up socially against popular opinion and to push for change, than I am for my fellow soldiers that do heroic actions in battle. Soldiers don't plan or choose the circumstances they do the heroic deeds in, they are forced into the situation and must survive or take action. People like Martin Luther King had the option of choosing their course of action/inaction and that takes real courage.

That does not mean I have extreme amount of respect and honor for my fellow soldiers both past and present, but on a scale, I feel that social change heros are on a higher scale!

Okay...off topic!

It is possible to be a soldier, do your job, to be mindful, and compassionate to both your self, your fellow soldiers, and your enemy. It does not require you to hate, dehumanize, or glorify, if you develop your mind, body, and spirit properly.

Iraq and Afganistan seem to be wars of a different type, that started with the French in Vietnam. Soldiers must be "civic" on one day, and then flip and pull the trigger on the next day. I think we have learned alot of lessons over the last 50 years. I see an evolution going on that allows for compassion and yet still allows you to be strong and pull the trigger if necessary. However, I am not a expert in this area, so I have no substanial proof to support this claim...just my thoughts and observations!

Are things different today than they were in the past? How does today's environment/wars differ from say the crusades, or roman wars of the past? Maybe they are not any different?

statisticool
06-16-2006, 04:43 PM
Kevi wrote:


, they fight to survive the battle, ...


That's basically a tautology, Kevin.

Sides can attempt to justify violence on a grand scale all they want (and they do), but it is still empty, and says that sides havn't intelligently thought of better means of conflict resolution.

Guilty Spark
06-16-2006, 07:44 PM
Grant,

I could go on about the illegality of this war: but you've probably heard it all already.

But I will comment on the "spiritual," or "great cause" that this war is being fought over.

If there really IS such a great cause to this war: then why is it so hard for the White House to articulate what it is? Cindy Sheehan hounds Bush for an answer: and he cannot give her one.


Hey Neil, you're 100% right. I've heard that illegal war thing done to death. Is a war ever legal? Who decides what's legal and whats not? Is it right to attack a country before they attack you as a sort of first strike? How about attacking a country due to the actions of one of their citizens (or a visitor who just hangs out there)

Thats a crazy debate that will go on forever. There are just way too many angles and points of view to even come close to a right answer.

I've found the peace demonstrators can be as nutty as the war mongers. Both sides need to suck back and take a breather.

Aikido stance/posture is one of being upright, prepared, relaxed, open, focused and centered. The hands are open offering a non confrontational image ( as opposed to the closed fist ). The being in this stance must embody the principles of aikido otherwise it is just an outward show.

An example of an aikido principle is "know your partners mind". When Mr Bush used the term 'Crusade' early on in the post 9/11 tub thumping. He did not consider how much of a provocation that would be in the world outside, his sense of history only seems to go as far back as his being 're-born'. Offering to crush or annihilate, does nothing to calm the situation. Admittedly it must be hard for someone brought up in such great privilege to "know the mind" of the 'terrorists' but unless the attempt is made, the same problems will just be repeated ad infinitum.

In the same way that a smaller more skillfull aikidoka can handle a larger more powerfull opponent, the smaller enemy can negate the muscle of one with the largest 'firepower' by not fighting on the same terms. The re-emergence of the Taliban is a case in point, these people have a nearly a 1000 years of fighting history to draw on. And you can't bomb an 'ideology into extinction.



Awesome, I really like your point of views on applying aikido to this situation. I can't add too much (just starting to apply aikido principals to life) but I'm really enjoying the different points of views and way to apply aikido to present day situations.

I look forward to the time when the dominant military force is a 'global peace keeping army'. I hesitate to suggest under the command of the UN as that body in itself is not as effective as it should be, if not them then we need to create something that is. We must move beyond 1 State having the ability to invade another country for it's own reasons, even if it does have some support from others.
All 'invasions' need to have massive global backing, and the raison d'etre needs to be to contain any 'rouges' inside their own borders.


As do I. If you can't play nice we're going to take your toys away.


Now, let's act like warriors at the end of class, and let's all put the mats away together and make sure our gi's are properly hung, instead of lying about the floor."

After warmups, we had our last class for the season. They tested, bowed out, and (for once, diverging from the usual chaotic silliness) put away the mats and hung their gi's in record time.

I've done a lot of pondering on what a warrior is. I think the journey there is more important like the end result. I think your example is a good one of what I consider the beginnings of a warrior mentality.

An example of my own. I was in charge of some young soldiers. We spent monday to friday camping out in the woods getting rained on eating bad food and getting eaten alive by bugs. By friday all everyone wanted to do was go home and drink and party. I would not let them go until they cleaned their weapons and equipment so that sunday night they were prepared to hit the field just incase we got called out. the other groups all left their stuff dirty and just took care of it sunday night or fumbled around with it money.
I wasn't very popular come fridays :)

Regardless, I wanted them to take pride in their station as a soldier and respect the tools of their trade. I feel too many people don't respect their tools. Even more so when you're asking someone to clean and maintain something that someone else (likely unknown to them) is going to end up using. Maybe thats more a case of professionalism but I feel the whole 'warrior' thing gives someone a goal to strive for. Pride and respect in your job, equipment and for other people. Especially respect for others. I hate drawing equipment that's broken and someone was just too lazy to report it. A warrior is someone who puts mission before self in that their own personal pleasure of fun time takes a back burner. Perhaps students who remain after class to sweep the Mat's or helping newer students with problems vice everyone rushing home?

In any case I think your example of instilling a warrior mindset on your students, as young as they are, is bang on. Warrior is a scary word to some people (say parents). Easy to change it to professional or respectful, warrior just sounds cooler :)


You won't find too many soldiers that when you get down to it that will fight for glory, they fight to survive the battle, avoid shame, and to protect the ones they love. They may believe in an ideal such as the U.S constitution, but in reality, it is probably not why they decide to stick it out and do their job. Patriotism is a wonderful initial motivator though, and a tool on the road to war!

Too true! I've read a zillion quotes about generals using patriotism to get soldiers or citizens to do whatever they want.

I think there is always the glory or pride part of the job. Taking pride in your job isn't a bad thing, if more people came to work every day LIKING their job the world would be a much happier place. I don't see anything wrong with enjoying being a soldier or being the pointy end of the stick (I know you're not suggesting there is).

In the end it's always about your buddies.

It is possible to be a soldier, do your job, to be mindful, and compassionate to both your self, your fellow soldiers, and your enemy. It does not require you to hate, dehumanize, or glorify, if you develop your mind, body, and spirit properly.

For sure. I like a quote I heard. Hate is fear turned inside out.
Regarding David Grossman's book "on Killing" he brings up a great point about how young soldiers are conditioned to hate- one of the main reasons being it's much easier to kill someone you hate.
Hating someone helps allow humans to overcome the psychological roadblocks. (killing is wrong)

I do believe conditioning soldiers is an important method of enabling us to close with and destroy the enemy. Human looking targets instead of square ones. Targets that give feed back (instant gratification) instead of holes in paper etc..
That said I'm not a big fan of the hate the enemy approach. I'm pretty subtle about it ( I figure anyways) but when someone is willing to listen I try and give them a different perspective on "the enemy".

Are things different today than they were in the past? How does today's environment/wars differ from say the crusades, or roman wars of the past? Maybe they are not any different?

I would say yes they are different. IMHO Today we are facing an enemy who cannot be identified by wearing a uniform. They wear civilian clothes, shoot at you, blow you up and then blend back into the crowd. It gives a soldiers a feeling of being surrounded. Soldiers then treat civilians differently (perhaps more inclined to be less compassionate, they could be the enemy after all?).
Strategic soldier. We are seeing cases all the time of a single soldiers actions having HUGE ripple effects.

-A US soldier getting accused of rape in japan put the US in hot water (and beefed up anti US sentiment in japan, correct me if I'm wrong.

-A soldier shoots a very wounded enemy combatant in order to (up to argument) put him out of his misery. Mercy killing. A US drone plane caught it on tape. That officer was charged if I'm not mistaken and kicked out.

-Afghanistan 2002 Canadians working with Americans. A young officer gives into conjecture he heard from his troops and while writing a book makes a comments about Canadians committing war crimes or some such. Apparently *&%$ hit the fan, I'm not sure if there was an investigation or not but this platoon commanders unfounded accusations caused a lot of grief.

-Enemy combatants fire on our guys and then hide in religious buildings knowing full well allied soldiers have to walk on egg shells and are under constant media and political scrutiny.

I think todays wars are much much different because the actions of a single soldier (or warrior :) ) can have huge national ramifications.

This is why I feel cookie cutter soldiers just don't cut it. We need to give soldiers a strong sense of ethics, morales and teach them there ARE alternatives to violence in some cases. I think using aikido principals will really help towards the whole winning their hearts and minds thing.

Erick Mead
06-16-2006, 10:12 PM
Hey Neil, you're 100% right. I've heard that illegal war thing done to death. Is a war ever legal? Who decides what's legal and whats not? Is it right to attack a country before they attack you as a sort of first strike? How about attacking a country due to the actions of one of their citizens (or a visitor who just hangs out there)
Thats a crazy debate that will go on forever. There are just way too many angles and points of view to even come close to a right answer.
I've found the peace demonstrators can be as nutty as the war mongers. Both sides need to suck back and take a breather. War is beyond law, and is a reset button for many forms of law when they get out of bounds, , i.e. -- become intolerably unjust. War is neither legal nor illegal. It is simply either just or unjust according to its cause and its methods. Very old thinking this.

I look forward to the time when the dominant military force is a 'global peace keeping army'.
As do I. If you can't play nice we're going to take your toys away. No army can keep any peace. An army can aid in making peace by removing its impediments. Peace keeping is the job of the peaceful. Force is to break the peace breaker, not to keep peace or to build it up. In the current assymetrc mode of warfare, it is even less possible for any such army to be effective in establishing peace.

Military can best serve ( perhaps only serve) as the remover of impediments that ahve unjustly injured or prevented the operation of those parts of society tha do bring peace. Grocereis, kids, parks, schoool, hairdresser, commutes to work, and all the litte bits of lfie that keep people from trying to kill one another becasue they have more important things to do.

Aiki is working when such force is keep to its place, as reactive potential rather than a constitutive active component of aa society at peace, not being expressed regualrly but held in reserve and only displayed at uttermost need.

Are things different today than they were in the past? How does today's environment/wars differ from say the crusades, or roman wars of the past? Maybe they are not any different?I would say yes they are different. IMHO Today we are facing an enemy who cannot be identified by wearing a uniform. They wear civilian clothes, shoot at you, blow you up and then blend back into the crowd. It gives a soldiers a feeling of being surrounded. Soldiers then treat civilians differently (perhaps more inclined to be less compassionate, they could be the enemy after all?).
Strategic soldier. We are seeing cases all the time of a single soldiers actions having HUGE ripple effects.
[ Snip examples of soldierly misconduct-A US soldier getting accused of rape in japan etc.]
I think todays wars are much much different because the actions of a single soldier (or warrior :) ) can have huge national ramifications.


I think the assymetric strategies of the Salafi Jihadists are in fact returning to very old forms of warfare, with improved suites of wepaons. There is less and less distinction betweencombatant and non-combatant in their calculations, contrary to the modern trend, and which the decline of unifromed combatants reinforces. Salafi Jihadists do not honor our rules of war, they do not even honor those of their own tradition.

But the role of our individual soldiers approaches the significance of the ancient champions, standing forth from the body of the assmbled warriors for acts of honor or dishonor before their compatriots, their enemies, and the nervous populace of both sides looking on from the battlements, knowing that one misstep of that lone soldier, in skill or honor, could bring them to ruin.

For this reason, arts such as aikido may become more important in developing a critical mass of thought on these topics, especially the last one.. Aikido has one foot firmly fixed in the robust but pragmatic attitudes of koryu, and one foot firmly resting on the supple growing shoot of gendai with its exploration and idealism. (It is not the only such art, but it is preeminent in the degree to which this combination is honored and celebrated is true)

Aikido is the only art that seems to embody the resilience of the mune with the biting edge of the ha iin both its methodology and its doctrine. Having both aspects is something our soldiers and their trainers recognize they need to be trained more and more to do. In dealing with civilians in an asymmetric war situation, the enemy's role and manuever are not displayed in advance, and honor hangs by a thread on a knife blade.

This seems inherently an aspect of aiki in their training, and which aikido could therefore aid if addressed more explicitly.

Cordially,
Erick Mead

Kevin Leavitt
06-17-2006, 01:53 AM
good post Erick, I do agree with your comments about the use of military and peace. Military can separate and control and ceasefire. However real peace will come when the military is not needed to keep people apart.

However, the military can do a great deal to assist and instigate the healing process through building infrastructure, everyday actions of soldiers showing compassion.

What we need to do is to provide our soldiers top notch training to have even better skills in the compassionate area that allows them to cope with violence, killing, and yet remain vigilant and strong.

Martial arts in general provide a good base to build this on. This is my platform anyway.

We lost a lot of ground in the close fight and stability operations during the cold war. The new generation we are seeing today is changing the way we approach fighting and stability operations. We still have a long way to go, and it is a conflict that will never quite go away...just as in martial arts training, you can never ignore the fact that what you are practicing, while it may be a tool of peace in your head, the yang of it is you are practicing an art based on violence.

Hardware
06-19-2006, 06:56 PM
Grant, I've read through most of this thread - lots of good advice aside from some of the political debate...

Remember that you are part of a team and if some Taliban extremist tries to attack you (or a comrade) during a shura or in a large scale firefight, your duty is to protect yourself, your fellow soldiers and any innocents in the vicinity. That may require lethal force.

Even if part of a large operation where you "bring it to the enemy" remember that you're engaging the bad guys and you're not exactly dragging innocent people out of their beds in the middle of the night.

Stay sharp, remember you're at the pointy end of the stick, keep your head up, your powder dry and your stick on the ice (that's as Canadian as it gets).

Mark Freeman
06-27-2006, 05:26 PM
Yes, we can all think and express idealistic views about the military, as well. We can reverently pause and bow our heads for the security that we are granted, and ignore all of the rest of the actions of the US military, inside and out of the US.

Sometimes, those backs protecting us are turned around, the soldiers used to threaten us internally, as well. Is this the fault of the military? No, of course not (it is, as Kevin pointed out, merely a tool): but it is disingenuous to hallow an institution while ignoring its excesses.

And while I'm no expert on the subject, I believe that expressing one's views sometimes takes as much courage, as putting on a uniform and taking orders for one's country. Sure, people have died for protecting our freedoms, but people have also died for speaking truth to power.

Perhaps the bravest folks are those already in uniform, speaking truth to power. Consider this film:

Sir. No Sir (http://www.sirnosir.com/)

I have just finished watching this film "Sir No Sir" shown on the BBC this evening.

Without going into detail, I would strongly recommend anyone interested in the dicussion in this thread to watch this film.

I can't imagine who would not be humbled by the men featured in this film.

The only link that I can make with aikido at this point, is that for me aikido is a search for truth, and the men in this film were interested in speaking the truth of their experience. Some of them paid a heavy price for that truth. I salute their decision to do what they thought was right no matter the consequences.

regards,

Mark