View Full Version : holding onto ego

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Gregory King
07-02-2002, 10:11 PM
Hello Aikiweb members,
I have only recently started studying Aikido and despite several setbacks due to injury have found it to be one of the most remarkable things I've ever done. I started Aikido for several reasons, one of them being the idea of harmony.
It was several weeks ago now (eight and a half but who's counting!) when I was robbed and assualted in my local bar. I have been a regular at this place for about fifteen or so years and never seen more than a scuffle so to be provoked myself had me in a state of shock.
I tried to be very gentle in the tone of my voice to convince my aggressor to give back my money, I tried to snatch the money from his hand but no luck, his agression escalated until I was struck and while my aikido training was enough to have me move off the line of the strike so that it caused no great harm I was then unable to move and could not think of a single technique, I believe that I was in fear of receiving a beating and also afraid of losing face, I then retaliated with full force by striking the assailant on the shoulder with my elbow and while having the desired effect of knocking him from his feet it had the undesired effect of breaking both the the bones in my lower right leg. I did not pivot!
Fortunately I had learned enough aikido to do a decent backward roll and land softly, my assailant had fled and I was left to consider the consequence of my actions.
My question is did I fail the ethos of Aikido by not allowing the man to take the money and go?
I am not sure that nine weeks in plaster and various metallic inserts are the result of harmony.
When do you let go of ego? Surely it was not only the money which motivated me to strike back.
If I follow Aikido and learn to be humble will it foster a feeling of safety/confidence?
I realise this is a bit long winded but I would appreciate any feedback someone may have to offer.

07-02-2002, 11:43 PM
Originally posted by Gregory King


My question is did I fail the ethos of Aikido by not allowing the man to take the money and go?
I am not sure that nine weeks in plaster and various metallic inserts are the result of harmony.
When do you let go of ego? Surely it was not only the money which motivated me to strike back.
If I follow Aikido and learn to be humble will it foster a feeling of safety/confidence?
I realise this is a bit long winded but I would appreciate any feedback someone may have to offer.

That's a difficult question to answer without being too judgemental. From what I read about your post, he took a swing at you and you reacted. There's a lot that written about self defence, fighting and martial arts.

I follow the line of thought that having martial arts training does not necessarily mean you are a better fighter or can be effective in a self defence situation. IMHO training in a controlled environment is not the same as what happens "in the street".

Having been attacked I can understand the emotions etc that you went through not to mention the huge adrenalin rush, the apparent slowness of body movements and the tunnel vision etc. None of which my training prepared me for - the whole psychology and physiology aspect of the situation. It may be different in your dojo.

Should you have just walked away? I guess that depends on the circumstances right then and there and whether you might have been in further danger even if you gave the person the money. There's so many variables and the benefit of 20/20 hindsight always leads to: "well I should have done this or not done that".

Anyway you might want to check out these treads:

All the best for a speedy recovery and training :)

07-03-2002, 12:12 PM
IMHO, judging yourself about your past performance is still more ego. The question may better be, what did you learn about yourself? While Aikido can be a tool to help you let go of your ego, it can also be a tool for you to fool and build your ego. Aikido is only a tool that follows your intent. We all do the best we can given the options and resources we have available. Training gives us more options and resources. We still need to face and deal directly with our own inner ego demons. My deepest compliments on your introspection, my compassion for you confusion and pain, and my best wishes for a speedy recover physically and mentally.

Until again,


07-17-2002, 03:00 PM
Personally, after taking a few months of Aikido, I couldn't do it anymore (but am starting again in the new month...yay! I miss it so much!).

But I understood that if your concern was about your opponent, then the satisfaction of ego is moot.

A friend of mine got into a beef at the FleetCenter. He traded blows with his opponent. Then his opponent's friend jumped in. I was observing the melee off to the side. If two grown men want to fight then so be it. But the third man in, I had to take care of the guy. So in a non-Aikido move, I grab him from behind and drop/takle him, falling to my knees and then dropping him chest first. I then shielded my face with my forearms...he was flailing about trying to get at me. Security came in after that and broke it up but I was concerned for my opponent. There was a multiude of ways I could have taken him out. Lots of them are aggressive and could have hurt him but I felt obligated to take hime out as quickly and painlessly as possible.

I dunno...

07-24-2002, 06:17 PM
Being a sheep only feeds the wolves, and feeding the wolves only allows more to survive. To walk the true path of enlightenment, in my opinion, is to learn to not become a victim without becoming a wolf yourself.

In the firearms community I have learned a great deal about the nature of martial honor. Some in that community fail to embrace it, but most do, at least enough to be considered honorable. In that community though, I have met some great people who really stand out amongst their peers, and one of them put it in a very simple analogy that really captured the spirit of it perfectly.

He said, "Think of it as the difference between being either a sheep, a wolf, or a sheep dog. The sheep lives life in a pack, and survives by luck and by the size of the herd. The wolf runs wild, obeys nobody and eats the sheep whenever it is hungry. The sheep dog is loyal, and gentle, but when he or his sheep are threatened by the wolves, he becomes a fierce monster that few would dare provoke. To be prepared and willing to fight, and even kill, only when necessary, is to be the sheep dog, the protector. That is what seperates us from the wolves, who are the criminals of our society"

Kevin Leavitt
07-27-2002, 05:51 PM
To answer your question, and sorry to be so blunt. YES you did fail. Not knowing all the details and not being there it is hard for me to judge the stituation, but from the description you gave, you probably missed the whole point of Aikido.

The best Aikido you could have done would have been to let him take the money. In my opininon trying to get it back was probably just trying to appease your ego. (which we all struggle with!).

One way to look at it is that he probably needed it more than you did if he was wiling to risk taking it from you.

Not knowing your background, but with 8 weeks of study you probably hardly qualify for being able to use martial skill effectively.

Another thing, he obviously knew how far he was willing to go to "defend" his spoils. How far where you willing to go?

Don't want to get into a long conversation about this, but if you have to "think" about technique...you will lose everytime.

On the lines of thinking and making up your mind....If I go to a bar or something, which I rarely do anymore, I try and avoid certain situations. (Yes, I have used my martial abilities since studying aikido in a bar...and very successfully might I add...but another story).

I don't drink alcohol (impairs my judgement). I never have my back to anyone, I keep my money in my pants. I never go alone, I always know where the exits are and how to get to them fast. (And YES I have used my martial ability to run away from a bar fight before!!) I alway see who follows me into the restroom.

Paranoid, maybe, but it keeps me with the upper hand and I never lose. Actually I win by avoiding situations.

Unfortunately, Avoiding conflict is not always possible as your case. Let go of your ego. and only use your super powers for good! The only time I will fight back is if I am physically threatened, or I see another person physically threatened. I only intervene or fight if I cannot run, avoid the situation, or call the police or get help. (Common Sense goes a long ways!)

You always have options available to you, and they don't always involve physical intervention.

09-23-2002, 08:44 AM
The best Aikido you could have done would have been to let him take the money. In my opininon trying to get it back was probably just trying to appease your ego. (which we all struggle with!).
I've been sick for quite a while and hadn't noticed this reply till just now, sorry it took so long to reply to this.

Anyway, I disagree on this point. Aikido is not pacifism, it's pacification. In simple terms anyway. It's an art of defense, and defense means standing your ground, or taking ground when necessary. It is a martial art, it can be used to hurt and to kill, and indeed probably has been from time to time.

Though I am only a little bit into the physical training of Aikido, the philosophy has appealed to me greatly, and Aikido schools in general seem to spend far too little time on the philisophical aspects of the art, which are the very soul and core of the art in my opinion. The philosophy of Aikido indeed has greatly improved and otherwise benefitted my other martial arts training(limited amounts of kung-fu and karate). It's a mindset, an approach, a way of life. O Sensei himself was a student of many arts, and through those studies he created Aikido, and the physical practice of Aikido is largely a collection of specific ideas from other arts, which were chosen because they fit the philosophy. The philosophy was not chosen because it fit those moves. I think that even if he had gotten into a typical bar fight with this guy and had used the force as a means to control the situation and only up to the point necessary to solve the immediate problem, he would have been within the bounds of Aikido completely. I bet O Sensei would not have surrendered his wallet lol

Kevin Leavitt
09-23-2002, 08:21 PM
I never said that is was about pacifism...but then again, if you check webster's you will find that pacifism doesn't necessarily mean what most think it is.

It really is about having the choice and choosing not to use force, IMHO.

I still submit that ego is involved when dealing with material possessions most of the time. I think there would be some situation where fighting and resistance would be warranted when dealing with material possessions, but they are few and far in between.

That said, it is an individual choice about what is an appropriate response, and were you draw the line.

Is it really worth getting yourself hurt or hurting another over something a trival as money?

Yes I agree that given the right circumstances that this could be in the boundaries of aikido, but still bet that many would argue that it is not worth fighting for money.

09-24-2002, 06:27 AM
In my case, my income level is low enough that if someone were to take my wallet, I quite honestly might starve for a while.. So yes, I would consider it totally worth my time to stop them. Also, I consider it a dangerous precedent to simply comply with such crimes. Making crime easy for the perps gives them an easy job, and easy jobs that profit well attract more people. I strongly believe in standing ground, but I do not believe in going too far in such a case. Only the violence needed to bring an end to the conflict, nothing more...

Kevin Leavitt
09-24-2002, 07:56 PM
Everyone is responsible to defining their own justification and must live with the results of their decision.

Sounds like you made the right choice for you!

Not sure I agree 100% with the "making crime easy" argument though...there are ways do deal with crime other than violence that make it tough to do crime...that is why we have our legal system etc...some other ways may require patience and cleverness to foil the criminals, but many times, they do get away. Eventually they usually pay for it at some point. We have to think bigger than our own situation in order to see it though, which is VERY tough when you are bearing the brunt of their bad karma!

That said, if they are threatening you with physical harm, and their is no way out, then by all means I agree that violence is an option!

09-25-2002, 01:21 AM
I would agree on not beating people up over your wallet if it is not necessary, but I think using as much force as necessary to deter them is justified, and if they choose to refuse to disengage in the face of your resistance, then they do bear a great deal of responsibility for the further injury they are subjected to. I agree on the legal system, and if someone tries to take my wallet, I will deter them and apprehend them if able to do so without becoming an agressor. Once they are under control the police will be called, if not sooner.

There are cases of crime where I would most definitely become the agressor, and would have little mercy. Stopping a major crime like rape or murder would certainly be included. I would be a great deal less likely to become agressive and risk my life and their's to stop a property crime, though in some cases I would do so, such as attacks on religious organizations, or robbing of a charity organization of some sort. Even then, I believe that unwanted violence is a bad thing. There are types of violence in life we ask for, that we want, such as sparring with a friend, or playing sports, but hostility is just a bad thing, and so even then, I would prefer greatly not to use as much force as I possibly can. With even my limited training, I can really hurt someone badly, and I am mindful of that. I realize there are many that are not though, but I consider them martial practicioners rather than martial artists.

In the wallet case, I am just saying that in most cases I believe it's more a matter of principal than of necessity. I would defend my wallet out of necessity and would do so quite agressively due to that fact, but were that small amount of money not so essential to my daily welfare, I would base my response level on what it means to straightening out the theif, and protecting the community, an I'm sure my violence level would be much lower.

Gregory King
10-03-2002, 12:53 AM
Thanks to all who have taken the time to consider my question your input is very much appreciated. I have now been off the crutches for one week, yes that's right my poor decision making has led to a very long period of recovery (5 months!) and relegated me to the bench on the side of our tatami mats. This is not to say that I have stopped learning Aikido rather I have the benefit of speaking to "the old fella" Len, who has been studying Aikido for sixty plus years and now only instructs occasionally yet still turns up to every session to give advice and encouragement. I am glad to share the bench with him, I get all his complaints and "look at that, your doin' it wrong!" Yes I am still learning Aikido.

In regards to learning from the incident I have to agree that the money that was being taken was all I had and would have been sadly missed (especially by my landlord lol!)but in the end I also wish I had taken any number of other options as the time, employment and confidence that I have lost is a far greater debt to recover, in the end it really was my lack of Aikido that got me into trouble. In future I will know better.

Peace and thanks,


10-03-2002, 07:40 AM
Glad to hear you're getting some healthy time with a wise old teacher.

I do have one question though. Do you have any sort of bone disease, or low bone density?

Gregory King
10-03-2002, 10:56 PM

It turns out that my bone density is not all that crash hot and I am in the lowest 10% for my age group, I was sent for a scan after the incident and now the doctor believes that I may be developing osteoporosis, not great news but surprisingly it has had a positive effect on my lifestyle as I have improved on diet,excersice and the like so even though I cannot feel the disease (until you break something) generally I am feeling happier and healthier than I have for some time.



10-04-2002, 06:47 AM
Funny how disadvantages turn into advantages like that. I have Celiac Sprue Disease, and the diet that has forced me onto has changed my life immensely.