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Guillaume Erard
12-05-2012, 10:50 PM
http://www.guillaumeerard.com/images/stories/aikido/articles/violence/self-defense.jpg (http://www.guillaumeerard.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=111:no-the-world-is-not-becoming-a-violent-place-so-what-are-you-getting-out-of-aikido&catid=10:articles&Itemid=110)I have expressed several times the fact that I believe that Budo have less to do with warmongering and personal defense than with physical and mental education, and that those who mainly seek martial efficacy in training are in my eyes wasting their time developing useless kills, and probably living in irrational fear. Today I would like to substantiate these claims with hard facts and ask the question: "What is the point of training to achieve martial efficacy in a peaceful world?". Violence in human societies is on decline and it has been so for hundreds of years. As a consequence, we are currently living in the most peaceful and harmonious time that our specie has ever known. This phenomenon has been put forward in its most elegant and persuasive form by Harvard Professor Steven Pinker in his book "The Better Angels of our Nature".[1] (http://www.guillaumeerard.com/#Ref1) I propose to share some of his ideas and evidence, and to discuss how this affects martial arts practice. In a nutshell, I could sum it up as : "No, the world is not becoming a dangerous place, so chill out and enjoy martial art training for what it is: a healthy habit, albeit a slightly silly, and mostly obsolete one".



(Original blog post may be found here (http://www.guillaumeerard.com/aikido/articles/111-no-the-world-is-not-becoming-a-violent-place-so-what-are-you-getting-out-of-aikido).)

Tom Verhoeven
12-06-2012, 01:15 PM
http://www.guillaumeerard.com/images/stories/aikido/articles/violence/self-defense.jpg (http://www.guillaumeerard.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=111:no-the-world-is-not-becoming-a-violent-place-so-what-are-you-getting-out-of-aikido&catid=10:articles&Itemid=110)I have expressed several times the fact that I believe that Budo have less to do with warmongering and personal defense than with physical and mental education, and that those who mainly seek martial efficacy in training are in my eyes wasting their time developing useless kills, and probably living in irrational fear. Today I would like to substantiate these claims with hard facts and ask the question: "What is the point of training to achieve martial efficacy in a peaceful world?". Violence in human societies is on decline and it has been so for hundreds of years. As a consequence, we are currently living in the most peaceful and harmonious time that our specie has ever known. This phenomenon has been put forward in its most elegant and persuasive form by Harvard Professor Steven Pinker in his book "The Better Angels of our Nature".[1] (http://www.guillaumeerard.com/#Ref1) I propose to share some of his ideas and evidence, and to discuss how this affects martial arts practice. In a nutshell, I could sum it up as : "No, the world is not becoming a dangerous place, so chill out and enjoy martial art training for what it is: a healthy habit, albeit a slightly silly, and mostly obsolete one".

(Original blog post may be found here (http://www.guillaumeerard.com/aikido/articles/111-no-the-world-is-not-becoming-a-violent-place-so-what-are-you-getting-out-of-aikido).)

Very well written article adressing a number of important points. Personally I do not practice Budo for self-defence reasons - I agree more with Terry Dobson's point about martial arts; "the emphasis should be more on art and less on martial". Archery is part of my training as well - but I do not participate in local competition, do not hunt and don't expect to be attacked by a French knight on horseback any day soon.
Budo for me is a personal mental and physical exercise that I at times share with others - and I have to agree with you here; Budo is a slighlty silly and obsolete exercise.

Thank you for the article.

Tom

Rob Watson
12-06-2012, 07:45 PM
Well, statistics can be misleading. If we counted drunk driving as attempted murder (which is kind of is) then the numbers would be dramatically different.

It wasn't so long ago that 50-70 million folks died in a war. Shall we have short memories? If we breed like rats (or rabbits) we can dilute the pain away ...

According to statistics half of everyone is below average ... is that any kind of mindset to have when dealing with people?

Guillaume Erard
12-06-2012, 08:18 PM
Robert, I am not quite sure about what you are trying to express with:
If we breed like rats (or rabbits) we can dilute the pain away ...
what is the causal link here, if any?

Also your later statement:
is that any kind of mindset to have when dealing with people?
seems to address my moral values but I am not sure either about what it is trying to imply.

I will agree with you however on the fact that statistics can be confusing, especially for someone who does not seem familiar with the difference between average (mean) and median:
According to statistics half of everyone is below average

Thanks for you interest though, I am more than happy to address your criticisms but I will need you to express your points a bit more extensively to make sure I understand them right :)

Rob Watson
12-07-2012, 08:30 PM
Robert, I am not quite sure about what you are trying to express with:
Sorry, an inelegant way of expression a distinction between a simple accounting and per capita rates. Similarly a temporal component (implied in the premise of the original post) as in 50-70 million spread over 7 years (1938-1945) versus say 80,000 dead in a day (or even a second) at Hiroshima tends to skew the numbers when considering a rate. Using numbers in such a ways can be illuminating or just crass 'spin'.

Just what do the statistics say will happen next year?
Also your later statement:

seems to address my moral values but I am not sure either about what it is trying to imply.

Certainly not - mostly rhetorical question on my part. Just if we concentrate too strongly on the numbers one can tend to lose sight of the fact that the numbers represent actual people. Behind every nifty little statistic there can well be a myriad of conflicting stories, circumstances and obfuscatory conditions that are given short shrift by the economy of meaning one can stuff into a number.

I will agree with you however on the fact that statistics can be confusing, especially for someone who does not seem familiar with the difference between average (mean) and median:

Well for some distributions the mean and median can be very different (as you seem to imply) and in some cases they are exactly the same (I might have read "Stats for Dummies"). My point is not a technical one. I would not be confused with skew as I more resemble kurtosis in that I'm perhaps a bit larger about the middle than I'd ought to be bit do not tend to list to either side - 'though I have been accused of being 'heavily tailed' compared to average or median even (given the lack of skew such distinctions are moot) as I am certain the distribution is perfectly normal in other respects (at least that is what my momma says).

Thanks for you interest though, I am more than happy to address your criticisms but I will need you to express your points a bit more extensively to make sure I understand them right :)

Ah, the old "give him enough rope and he'll hang himself" ploy. Nicely played! I think I've made my point clear enough. Thanks anyway.

Guillaume Erard
12-07-2012, 11:43 PM
Hi Robert,
Thank you very much for taking the time to break it down for me. I think I get your point now, it boils down to your first sentence "statistics can be misleading" doesn't it? I cannot but agree with that statement; statistics are hard sometimes. Thanks a lot for your time and your input, I will keep all of this in mind for my subsequent articles. Have a great weekend!

Mario Tobias
12-08-2012, 12:03 PM
The world will always be a dangerous place IMHO. The danger just evolves into something we don't realize it's there.

As a case in point, previously countries prevail over other countries territories by overcoming them in wars through physical power and military might. Now, it is done through economic wars (eg Chinese, Japanese buying American major companies). Although the path of overcoming something is different, the outcome is the same.

Similar to individuals, the danger has evolved more from physical to psychological. "Wars" between individuals cannot be avoided since that is the nature of humans. I think this is where we can apply our learnings from the martial arts not only in the physical sense but also the psychological since the outcome will be the same.

jonreading
12-08-2012, 12:40 PM
http://www.guillaumeerard.com/images/stories/aikido/articles/violence/self-defense.jpg (http://www.guillaumeerard.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=111:no-the-world-is-not-becoming-a-violent-place-so-what-are-you-getting-out-of-aikido&catid=10:articles&Itemid=110)I have expressed several times the fact that I believe that Budo have less to do with warmongering and personal defense than with physical and mental education, and that those who mainly seek martial efficacy in training are in my eyes wasting their time developing useless kills, and probably living in irrational fear. Today I would like to substantiate these claims with hard facts and ask the question: "What is the point of training to achieve martial efficacy in a peaceful world?". Violence in human societies is on decline and it has been so for hundreds of years. As a consequence, we are currently living in the most peaceful and harmonious time that our specie has ever known. This phenomenon has been put forward in its most elegant and persuasive form by Harvard Professor Steven Pinker in his book "The Better Angels of our Nature".[1] (http://www.guillaumeerard.com/#Ref1) I propose to share some of his ideas and evidence, and to discuss how this affects martial arts practice. In a nutshell, I could sum it up as : "No, the world is not becoming a dangerous place, so chill out and enjoy martial art training for what it is: a healthy habit, albeit a slightly silly, and mostly obsolete one".

(Original blog post may be found here (http://www.guillaumeerard.com/aikido/articles/111-no-the-world-is-not-becoming-a-violent-place-so-what-are-you-getting-out-of-aikido).)

First, I would rephrase what you are saying as, "Here is evidence to support my claim the world is not becoming a more violent place." Second, I would reclassify these most of these studies as correlations, not facts.

Now, do I believe the world is more violent than... when? What kind of crime? Yes, I believe the world is just as dangerous as it has been. The danger may have shifted, but it is still dangerous. Our pens may be mightier than our swords now, but the philosophical goals of many martial are the same, even if you change the weapon. For me, Aikido is a good martial art for my training because of the larger philosophical focus. Because my focus is about making myself an empowered individual.

Kevin Leavitt
12-08-2012, 10:11 PM
Your perspective on violence is dependent on where you sit too. True the Western world dominated by liberal democracy there is much less violence of large scale war. However, in the rest of the third world it tends to be about the same as it always has.

Alot of violence is also mitigated based on the destructive nature of things like nuclear weapons. Which is a big irony based on the latent destructive nature of these weapons.

The potential of violence is always present and we must be very mindful of it to keep it in check. Just because it is not present in day to day life does not mean the latent capacity of it is not present.

I have never equated budo with war mongering. nor do I equate preparedness and focusing on the nature of war as being war mongering either. I don't think working to achieve martial ability or achieve an understanding of the martial nature of things to be war mongering.

"What is the point of training to achieve martial efficacy in a peaceful world?"

The simple answer to that question is to keep the peaceful world peaceful. It doesn't happen by accident. We need people with martial skills to keep certain aspects of it peaceful. (Police and Military).

We need, much greater I think, people that understand the thin line between peace and violence and to understand it's fragile nature. (Informed Citizenry).

IMO, budo can serve both purposes.

What I think is dangerous is the revisionistic philosophy I see in budo. That is, a philosophy that implies that we should abandon all that is violent and martial and seek to re-interpret budo simply as a spiritual practice or physical exercise.

Sure budo is spiritual and mental in its pursuits, but its purpose is to better understand the world through the reconciliation of violence, not the avoidance of it, or abstinence of it.

If we forget what violence is about, then we will be doomed to repeat it and make the same mistakes. Budo is about courage and commitment to mankind and an active stance to stand up against oppression and violence, it is not about ignoring it, revising it, or avoiding it. Budo is about making a stand against it in the most skillful way possible.

IMO, in budo we commit ourselves to a study of the nature of violence so we can learn to manage it and deal with it skillfully. It does require a great deal of humility and reverence to life and compassion. It ain't about the warm feeling we get inside or the spiritual uplifting we feel (narcissism). It is about committing ourselves to something greater than ourselves. The good feelings we get should come from enlightenment or awareness of something greater than ourselves.

By definition, fear is irrational. We have fear because we don't know or can't control something. Budo by its nature is about dealing with fear. By seeking to understand, we can reduce fear, see things more clearly and make more skilled and informed choices.

I can't say if the world is becoming more or less violent. I tend to see it as it does not matter what the current trend is. If violence is in your world, then it is 100% violent. Violence tends to be relative and personal. My own personal philosophical opinion on balance is that it is a zero sum game for the most part. It is always in balance with peace. There may be a cessation of violence, but the latent capacity is always presence. Because of that latency, we must never forget the nature of it and be prepared to stand up to stop it.

So for me, that is why budo is important. It is a matter of life and death and we must keep that basic thought always in our mind when we study it.

Guillaume Erard
12-08-2012, 11:05 PM
Your perspective on violence is dependent on where you sit too. True the Western world dominated by liberal democracy there is much less violence of large scale war. However, in the rest of the third world it tends to be about the same as it always has.

Alot of violence is also mitigated based on the destructive nature of things like nuclear weapons. Which is a big irony based on the latent destructive nature of these weapons.

The potential of violence is always present and we must be very mindful of it to keep it in check. Just because it is not present in day to day life does not mean the latent capacity of it is not present.

I have never equated budo with war mongering. nor do I equate preparedness and focusing on the nature of war as being war mongering either. I don't think working to achieve martial ability or achieve an understanding of the martial nature of things to be war mongering.

"What is the point of training to achieve martial efficacy in a peaceful world?"

The simple answer to that question is to keep the peaceful world peaceful. It doesn't happen by accident. We need people with martial skills to keep certain aspects of it peaceful. (Police and Military).

We need, much greater I think, people that understand the thin line between peace and violence and to understand it's fragile nature. (Informed Citizenry).

IMO, budo can serve both purposes.

What I think is dangerous is the revisionistic philosophy I see in budo. That is, a philosophy that implies that we should abandon all that is violent and martial and seek to re-interpret budo simply as a spiritual practice or physical exercise.

Sure budo is spiritual and mental in its pursuits, but its purpose is to better understand the world through the reconciliation of violence, not the avoidance of it, or abstinence of it.

If we forget what violence is about, then we will be doomed to repeat it and make the same mistakes. Budo is about courage and commitment to mankind and an active stance to stand up against oppression and violence, it is not about ignoring it, revising it, or avoiding it. Budo is about making a stand against it in the most skillful way possible.

IMO, in budo we commit ourselves to a study of the nature of violence so we can learn to manage it and deal with it skillfully. It does require a great deal of humility and reverence to life and compassion. It ain't about the warm feeling we get inside or the spiritual uplifting we feel (narcissism). It is about committing ourselves to something greater than ourselves. The good feelings we get should come from enlightenment or awareness of something greater than ourselves.

By definition, fear is irrational. We have fear because we don't know or can't control something. Budo by its nature is about dealing with fear. By seeking to understand, we can reduce fear, see things more clearly and make more skilled and informed choices.

I can't say if the world is becoming more or less violent. I tend to see it as it does not matter what the current trend is. If violence is in your world, then it is 100% violent. Violence tends to be relative and personal. My own personal philosophical opinion on balance is that it is a zero sum game for the most part. It is always in balance with peace. There may be a cessation of violence, but the latent capacity is always presence. Because of that latency, we must never forget the nature of it and be prepared to stand up to stop it.

So for me, that is why budo is important. It is a matter of life and death and we must keep that basic thought always in our mind when we study it.

That is such a great response thanks! It really hits the points that I wanted to discuss. Lots to think about here.

Being a researcher and a teacher myself, I tend to think of education being the key to reduce violence and incivilities in the broad sense (obviously). But what your answer made me realize (and I hope I understand it right) is that controlled violence can be a vector of education.

One think though, and perhaps it was not very clear in my writing, is that I do not advocate removing all martial aspects from martial arts, but I just suggest that those who seek only martial efficacy are mislead. That there must be a middle ground where the discipline provides its fullest potential between full on violence and avoidance at all costs.

I actually wrote this article in the hope of getting feedback such as your so thanks a lot for that.

Kevin Leavitt
12-09-2012, 09:42 PM
Thanks for your comments. I agree that the middleground is important. budo Must be well-rounded and there is much more to it then martial efficacy.

hughrbeyer
12-10-2012, 10:58 AM
@Jon and Robert, if you're at all interested, the book is well worth reading. Pinker deals with facts, not correlations--and when he can't get them, he uses multiple correlations to get the best fix on the facts he can. And he has an extensive discussion of how WWII skews his data.

Rob Watson
12-10-2012, 12:33 PM
While there is no question that the stabilizing influence of 'civilization' results in less direct interpersonal violence in general on average we must look a bit more broadly to see what is going on. As Pinker describes it is the laws of society that impose on the populace a risk too great to bear to coerce behavior away from violence. The implicit risk of stiff fines, prison and death at the hands of the state are a class of violence that is left free of the accounting - does such state sanctioned violence get a free pass?

What happens to the fat happy middle aged middle class when things get quite a bit less accommodating? Perhaps they return to the violent ways in proportion to the circumstances in which they find themselves. Let us not delude ourselves to the pacification of the per capita statistic ... average Berkeley with Oakland and Richmond does make the numbers look a bit different than when the rates of violence are instead segmented by more realistic socio-economic 'bins'. We find declining rates of violence solidly follow indicators of wealth and stability. Folks under hardship bear the brunt of violence that only occasionally spills over into the 'nice' neighborhoods and makes a disproportionate splash on the evening news. People are people and when put into certain situations they pretty much tend to act in predictable ways - this has not changed over millennia. Recent economic trends do not bode well and locally we are seeing record rates of murder.

How do why categorize the impact on millions of lives when 'white collar' crime robs the people of hundreds of billions of dollars - is that not violence?

These issues are quite besides the point of the blog post so let us not get distracted. Budo without equal emphasis on martial efficacy and personal development is not budo. Flower arrangement with artificial flowers is looked at comically. Origami that folds many things but not paper is not origami. There is no room for 'pretend-do' - either budo or don't. Martial choreography-do is fine but it is not budo. When my children sing xmas songs it is cute and brings joy to us parents and even the grandparents but we do not mistake it for music and those kids are certainly not musicians. We feel no compunction to convince others that the kids were presenting a musical performance - just kids having fun.

I will take the audacious stance that if one is not practicing aikido with as strong emphasis on martial efficacy as they place on personal development then they are not getting quite as much out of their practice as they could (or even possibly should). On average, or median, or whatever mode floats your boat.

hughrbeyer
12-10-2012, 01:33 PM
No, the laws of society (Hobbs' Leviathan) are only one of many factors Pinker identifies as causes of the reduction of violence.

Since this thread is about personal, physical violence nuclear bombs on the one hand and white-collar crime on the other are both beside the point.

For most people--certainly most people with the resources to be on aikiweb--personal violence is largely avoidable. To the extent that it's not, budo training of any sort is a radically inefficient solution. A Glock, a can of mace, and a decent street self-defense course are all quicker options (singly or in combination).

I agree with you, though, about pretend-do. If what we're doing has any value it's in training body and spirit into a budo mindset--as contrasted with a victim mindset. The budo has to be honest if you hope to achieve that.

jonreading
12-10-2012, 02:03 PM
@Jon and Robert, if you're at all interested, the book is well worth reading. Pinker deals with facts, not correlations--and when he can't get them, he uses multiple correlations to get the best fix on the facts he can. And he has an extensive discussion of how WWII skews his data.

Hugh-

I am probably gonna have a look at his new book. I am familiar with Pinker from some college readings of his earlier works; although he is generally held out as a propagandist, it looks like the critics felt his new book also held some clear bias. I'll hold my judgment till I read it.

My point in my earlier post, as echoed in others, was simply to point out statistics can be misleading. If you understand this constraint leading into a propaganda piece, you can still consume the material knowing the author is navigating you towards a [hopefully] clean and concise theory supported by some evidence. Its still Op-Ed, even if the author is a PhD or Harvard prof, or whatever.

As it happens, I think statistically the US methodology of tracking crime, the defining crime, and quantifying crime are pretty bad. For example, plead-down cases are categorized by the plead, not the act. Or, the exclusion of crimes committed but not reported. I hold similar doubts about other countries.

Ultimately, I get nervous whenever anyone tries to talk me into lowering my guard about anything. For me, I will hear an argument that violence is down when I can leave my house unlocked, my city lowers taxes because we need fewer police, and I don't see a bulletin that 30 people were shot in Chicago over the weekend.

Rob Watson
12-10-2012, 02:45 PM
No, the laws of society (Hobbs' Leviathan) are only one of many factors Pinker identifies as causes of the reduction of violence.

Since this thread is about personal, physical violence nuclear bombs on the one hand and white-collar crime on the other are both beside the point.

I see the issue as larger than that. 'Reduction' not so much as a transition in the type as are the modes of coercion and the imposition of significant discomfort by nukes and Enron types. If one chooses not to consider such as expressions of violence ... well, I do.

A thief in the night that steals your wallet is worse than an artificially shuddering economy on the brink of collase that impoverishes millions? I'd much rather someone stole my wallet than the $150,000 in equity from my home. But I can be selfish at times.

ryback
12-11-2012, 05:24 AM
In the art of...deception statistics is one of the most effective "tools",coming second in effectiveness only to the power of MEDIA and religion(each set for a different target group,but with same intentions).When it comes to life preservation or life and death situation(which is a martial context) it becomes even more misleading because it gives a specific,unrealistic and non-martial mindset.The mindset of dealing with situations like that in terms of mere numbers. Statistics usually fail to bring to our awarness the fact that behind these numbers hide real people who may have lost their lives as a result of being exposed to the...statistically insignificant number of violent attacks in our era.Behind those numbers is somebody's daughter that was raped,somebody's wife that was killed and lots of families that can't get over their loss just because statistics say that what happened to their loved ones was not very likely to happen.When you turn round the corner only to find that you are facing the wrong end of an attacker's knife you are standing on the inprobable (but veeery bad) side of those statistics that claim that nowadays the world is not so violent.But can one measure his life and his children's and his loved ones' lives according to the statistics created by some people behind a desk,while he is facing a dangerous opponent? Do they have any meaning at all at this time? Aikido is a Martial Art. It is NOT a controlled, stylized, choreographed form of violence, used to understand other "less beautiful" forms of violence.It is a way for one to develope himself physically,mentally and spiritually and to give him the chance to lead a ballanced life and to be in control of his life. Being in control also means that one should be able to defend his life effectivelly if he has to,and that is where the martial part comes.It has nothing to do with fear,only with overcoming fear in order to be ready when the time comes for the fight.Because every life is precious and it is not to be wasted.And for the followers of statistics,i should not strip you of all your fan,so this is a little surprise.Have you ever considered that in a world with "statistically" more trained martial artists than potential victims, "statistically" fewer people would ever dare to think of attacking, thus creating a world with "statistically" even less violence...?

phitruong
12-11-2012, 07:23 AM
Have you ever considered that in a world with "statistically" more trained martial artists than potential victims, "statistically" fewer people would ever dare to think of attacking, thus creating a world with "statistically" even less violence...?

no. history shown this isn't true. more martial artists would just lead to better ways of doing violent. never underestimate human capacity for violent. if there is a way, we will find it. anyone, giving the right circumstances, will do violent. for example, i was attacked,... nay assaulted, by a large supremely deep dish pizza. i had no choice but respond in violent, with extreme prejudice. it was quite satisfying afterward, i was not sorry about it! :)

Krystal Locke
12-11-2012, 07:56 AM
Aikido is a Martial Art. It is NOT a controlled, stylized, choreographed form of violence, used to understand other "less beautiful" forms of violence.

How is aikido not a controlled, stylized, choreographed form of violence? I know I tap a lot in class....

Have you ever considered that in a world with "statistically" more trained martial artists than potential victims, "statistically" fewer people would ever dare to think of attacking, thus creating a world with "statistically" even less violence...?

The death penalty has not eliminated murder or rape. What you are basically saying is that an armed society is a polite society. I think we have a lot of counterexamples for that rule. If you want to reduce violence, reduce the causes of violence. Now, figuring out what the causes are is a trick, and figuring out how to reduce those causes is a real trick.

Some folks just want to fight. Some folks dont know exactly how good it feels to utterly dominate someone violently, and we sure as shit dont talk about that much. Some folks feel they have no options other than violence for their survival. Some people have no capacity for empathy.

Violence happens. If it is reducing, let's give the research some serious thought and find out why so we can keep doing that.

ryback
12-11-2012, 09:03 AM
ZOOOOOOOM!!!
"Oh,what was that?"
"That was the essence and the point of my post mate."
"Oh dear,most people seem to have missed it..."
"No problem mate."
"Why did you bother posting it then?"
"Just wanted my thoughts on the matter to be out there,i can always hope for some perception..."

Oh dear!I'll end up talking...err...posting to myself!

ryback
12-11-2012, 09:06 AM
[QUOTE=Krystal Locke;320435]How is aikido not a controlled, stylized, choreographed form of violence? I know I tap a lot in class....

That phrase comes from somebody who actually practices Aikido???
If it wasn't so tragically sad, it would be almost amusing...

NagaBaba
12-11-2012, 11:53 AM
Your perspective on violence is dependent on where you sit too. True the Western world dominated by liberal democracy there is much less violence of large scale war. However, in the rest of the third world it tends to be about the same as it always has.

Alot of violence is also mitigated based on the destructive nature of things like nuclear weapons. Which is a big irony based on the latent destructive nature of these weapons.

The potential of violence is always present and we must be very mindful of it to keep it in check. Just because it is not present in day to day life does not mean the latent capacity of it is not present.

I have never equated budo with war mongering. nor do I equate preparedness and focusing on the nature of war as being war mongering either. I don't think working to achieve martial ability or achieve an understanding of the martial nature of things to be war mongering.

"What is the point of training to achieve martial efficacy in a peaceful world?"

The simple answer to that question is to keep the peaceful world peaceful. It doesn't happen by accident. We need people with martial skills to keep certain aspects of it peaceful. (Police and Military).

We need, much greater I think, people that understand the thin line between peace and violence and to understand it's fragile nature. (Informed Citizenry).

IMO, budo can serve both purposes.

What I think is dangerous is the revisionistic philosophy I see in budo. That is, a philosophy that implies that we should abandon all that is violent and martial and seek to re-interpret budo simply as a spiritual practice or physical exercise.

Sure budo is spiritual and mental in its pursuits, but its purpose is to better understand the world through the reconciliation of violence, not the avoidance of it, or abstinence of it.

If we forget what violence is about, then we will be doomed to repeat it and make the same mistakes. Budo is about courage and commitment to mankind and an active stance to stand up against oppression and violence, it is not about ignoring it, revising it, or avoiding it. Budo is about making a stand against it in the most skillful way possible.

IMO, in budo we commit ourselves to a study of the nature of violence so we can learn to manage it and deal with it skillfully. It does require a great deal of humility and reverence to life and compassion. It ain't about the warm feeling we get inside or the spiritual uplifting we feel (narcissism). It is about committing ourselves to something greater than ourselves. The good feelings we get should come from enlightenment or awareness of something greater than ourselves.

By definition, fear is irrational. We have fear because we don't know or can't control something. Budo by its nature is about dealing with fear. By seeking to understand, we can reduce fear, see things more clearly and make more skilled and informed choices.

I can't say if the world is becoming more or less violent. I tend to see it as it does not matter what the current trend is. If violence is in your world, then it is 100% violent. Violence tends to be relative and personal. My own personal philosophical opinion on balance is that it is a zero sum game for the most part. It is always in balance with peace. There may be a cessation of violence, but the latent capacity is always presence. Because of that latency, we must never forget the nature of it and be prepared to stand up to stop it.

So for me, that is why budo is important. It is a matter of life and death and we must keep that basic thought always in our mind when we study it.
That was, as usual, an excellent post, Kevin. Fortunately you are still here, so we have at least one essential article on this topic, not just, usual for Aikiweb, theoretical blah blah blah without any personal experience.....

lbb
12-11-2012, 12:01 PM
ZOOOOOOOM!!!
"Oh,what was that?"
"That was the essence and the point of my post mate."
"Oh dear,most people seem to have missed it..."

It was easy to miss, Yannis -- you wrote a big blob of a paragraph that conflates several different ideas, so don't blame your audience for failing to extract "the point" from all that. It takes some effort, but I think that your points, plural, seem to be:

1. I, Yannis, don't like statistics and believe that they are deceptive, useless and misleading when discussing safety and violence.

2. Even where violence is statistically low, the consequences to individuals is high and not mitigated by statistics.

3. The statement that "the world is not so violent" cannot be logically supported by any number of statistics (or, for that matter, personal anecdotes); however, it CAN be legitimately refuted by a single violent incident.

4. Aikido is "a way for one to develope himself physically,mentally and spiritually and to give him the chance to lead a ballanced life and to be in control of his life." All other definitions are null and void.

5. If there were more trained martial artists than non-trained people, fewer people would dare to attack someone.

Is that about right?

Kevin Leavitt
12-11-2012, 03:37 PM
No, the laws of society (Hobbs' Leviathan) are only one of many factors Pinker identifies as causes of the reduction of violence.

Since this thread is about personal, physical violence nuclear bombs on the one hand and white-collar crime on the other are both beside the point.

For most people--certainly most people with the resources to be on aikiweb--personal violence is largely avoidable. To the extent that it's not, budo training of any sort is a radically inefficient solution. A Glock, a can of mace, and a decent street self-defense course are all quicker options (singly or in combination).

I agree with you, though, about pretend-do. If what we're doing has any value it's in training body and spirit into a budo mindset--as contrasted with a victim mindset. The budo has to be honest if you hope to achieve that.

Well Hobbes was a realist, so he believed that the nature of man tended towards violence for sure, which is my point exactly and why I said what I did about nukes. That said, yes, on a large societal basis, nukes matter. On a personal level I also think it matters to a degree.

I tend towards liberalism on a personal scale, that is, I believe that individuals can transcend, or control, there violent nature...however, so far, we have not seen it demonstrated to any real degree that it can happen on a societal basis. (although I wish it would).

violence is avoidable cause you don't experience it for any number of reasons. However, it is not always the literal or explicit reasons we study budo that matters, but the intrinsic reasons that serve to deter violence. I think it is best to understand it so we can make informed choices. It may indeed involve passive measures such as not walking alone in the dark, or active measures such as carrying mace etc. On a societal basis, we have a much bigger challenge ahead of ourselves and as budoka, we should be setting the example for others to follow.

ryback
12-12-2012, 06:27 AM
It was easy to miss, Yannis -- you wrote a big blob of a paragraph that conflates several different ideas, so don't blame your audience for failing to extract "the point" from all that. It takes some effort, but I think that your points, plural, seem to be:

1. I, Yannis, don't like statistics and believe that they are deceptive, useless and misleading when discussing safety and violence.

2. Even where violence is statistically low, the consequences to individuals is high and not mitigated by statistics.

3. The statement that "the world is not so violent" cannot be logically supported by any number of statistics (or, for that matter, personal anecdotes); however, it CAN be legitimately refuted by a single violent incident.

4. Aikido is "a way for one to develope himself physically,mentally and spiritually and to give him the chance to lead a ballanced life and to be in control of his life." All other definitions are null and void.

5. If there were more trained martial artists than non-trained people, fewer people would dare to attack someone.

Is that about right?

Part of it is right and part it is not.It's not important,my original thoughts on the matter are in my original post,no matter how big,dense and incomprehensible it may be.Anybody who would like to read them it would be better to read my "big blob of a paragraph" than any...translations.So if he is to trash it,he can trash the real thing.
No problem,these are just my ideas.Remember:
I STATE them,you HATE them!

Krystal Locke
12-13-2012, 03:10 AM
[QUOTE=Krystal Locke;320435]How is aikido not a controlled, stylized, choreographed form of violence? I know I tap a lot in class....

That phrase comes from somebody who actually practices Aikido???
If it wasn't so tragically sad, it would be almost amusing...

What's your problem with my statement? If aikido is a martial art, it is (pretty much by definition) a controlled, stylized, choreographed form of violence. I know far more ways to kill, maim, injure, hurt and control people than I did before I took up aikido. I refuse to avoid taking responsibility for the gifts aikido has given me by pretending the gifts are something they are not.

You may not study aikido as a martial art, but I do. Aikido is a big enough umbrella, and the mat I am on is pretty darn large.

ryback
12-13-2012, 04:52 AM
[QUOTE=Yannis Mousoulis;320439]

What's your problem with my statement? If aikido is a martial art, it is (pretty much by definition) a controlled, stylized, choreographed form of violence. I know far more ways to kill, maim, injure, hurt and control people than I did before I took up aikido. I refuse to avoid taking responsibility for the gifts aikido has given me by pretending the gifts are something they are not.

You may not study aikido as a martial art, but I do. Aikido is a big enough umbrella, and the mat I am on is pretty darn large.

Aikido is a martial art indeed and i practice it as a martial art.As a martial art that is giving you the choice to be simply in control of the oponent or even deadly and every stage in between,according to the situation or what you want to do.
But being a martial art,it cannot be violent.Aikido is the way of controlling, neutralizing or even destroying your opponent,while you maintain a calm, non-agressive state of mind.It is therefore the exact opposite of violence!
If one is a real martial artist,even though his body has to physically fight,his mind and the essense of his core are in peace.
If one is a real martial artist his body also remains calm even though he is physically fighting.
The correct state of mind during a fighting situation is "mushin" which could loosely mean "no-mind".You don't hate your attacker,you simply deal with the situation at hand at the best of your abilities using aikido techniques and if the outcome is somehow violent,if your techniques were correct,it is more the relult of the attacker's actions.
An aikido warrior can be destructive by choice,but he cannot be angry or violent...

Kevin Leavitt
12-13-2012, 05:46 AM
Yannis, agree with your definitions for the most part. Only thing that I would differ on might be how you use the word choice. I think we try to expand our skills to give us the ability to make choices, or the ability to make more informed choices. however, I have been humbled by every violent encounter I have ever been involved in and while I may have had some ability/degree to make choices. I was never as skillful as I would have liked to have been or had much real choice in the destruction that ensued. I do try and minimalize it to the lowest degree necessary.

I am only saying that the enemy gets a vote and he typically has a bigger vote in the equation than we'd like him to, otherwise it would not be violent at all. So the mere presence of violence denotes to me that I do not have control or the ability to make choices all that effective.

I just think the whole notion of choice can be very slippery. that is all.

ryback
12-13-2012, 07:51 AM
Yannis, agree with your definitions for the most part. Only thing that I would differ on might be how you use the word choice. I think we try to expand our skills to give us the ability to make choices, or the ability to make more informed choices. however, I have been humbled by every violent encounter I have ever been involved in and while I may have had some ability/degree to make choices. I was never as skillful as I would have liked to have been or had much real choice in the destruction that ensued. I do try and minimalize it to the lowest degree necessary.

I am only saying that the enemy gets a vote and he typically has a bigger vote in the equation than we'd like him to, otherwise it would not be violent at all. So the mere presence of violence denotes to me that I do not have control or the ability to make choices all that effective.

I just think the whole notion of choice can be very slippery. that is all.

Kevin i agree totally with you,most of the times the situation is setting the bar of what happens and in real fighting situation there is always a number of x factors that is limiting our choices and puts a frame around our actions.
Trying to minimalize the destruction if possible and getting as much control as the situation and one's skills alow is,in my opinion,the right thing to do.So we are agreed!

Krystal Locke
12-13-2012, 02:43 PM
[QUOTE=Krystal Locke;320522]

Aikido is a martial art indeed and i practice it as a martial art.As a martial art that is giving you the choice to be simply in control of the oponent or even deadly and every stage in between,according to the situation or what you want to do.
But being a martial art,it cannot be violent.Aikido is the way of controlling, neutralizing or even destroying your opponent,while you maintain a calm, non-agressive state of mind.It is therefore the exact opposite of violence!
If one is a real martial artist,even though his body has to physically fight,his mind and the essense of his core are in peace.
If one is a real martial artist his body also remains calm even though he is physically fighting.
The correct state of mind during a fighting situation is "mushin" which could loosely mean "no-mind".You don't hate your attacker,you simply deal with the situation at hand at the best of your abilities using aikido techniques and if the outcome is somehow violent,if your techniques were correct,it is more the relult of the attacker's actions.
An aikido warrior can be destructive by choice,but he cannot be angry or violent...

I agree with what you have written here except your definition of violence. You seem to be saying that violence requires a lack of control, or thought, to be violence, and I do not think that is true. I see a lot of calmly premeditated, controlled damage inflicted upon others that anyone would call violence having seen it. Who is more violent, a person who plans, carefully arranges, and methodically executes a mall shootup, or someone who comes home to find the missus in the sack with the neighbor, loses his temper and proceedes to uncontrollably knock the snot out of all involved? I dont know. I think they might both be considered violent.

Claiming the moral high ground in a fight because you are calm is questionable. Assigning blame to the attacker if I use my skills to injure someone in a fight is perhaps understandable, but ultimately not reasonable. I am held liable for my actions in any and all situations, and my mental and emotional state have little bearing on my liability. Sometimes I can say that I was honestly afraid, and had little idea of what my atttacker had on hand and what their intent was. Even that doesn't get me far, sometimes.

For me, studying a martial art is about uncovering, working with, and learning to control my capacity for violence. I am not going to pretend that my participation in the art of love and harmony has actually made me less violent. I am more aware of the potential I have for violence. Which is good because like we are both saying, violence is better controlled. I'm just admitting I have the capacity for it, and you seem to be hiding your capacity under a label of a "non-violent" martial art.

lbb
12-13-2012, 08:46 PM
Remember:
I STATE them,you HATE them!

Wow, lighten up, Francis. I did read your paragraph. That's my best interpretation of it. If you don't want to clarify, then say so, but don't take an attitude like I'm some kind of idiot because I can't read your mind.

ryback
12-14-2012, 12:07 PM
[QUOTE=Yannis Mousoulis;320527]

I agree with what you have written here except your definition of violence. You seem to be saying that violence requires a lack of control, or thought, to be violence, and I do not think that is true. I see a lot of calmly premeditated, controlled damage inflicted upon others that anyone would call violence having seen it. Who is more violent, a person who plans, carefully arranges, and methodically executes a mall shootup, or someone who comes home to find the missus in the sack with the neighbor, loses his temper and proceedes to uncontrollably knock the snot out of all involved? I dont know. I think they might both be considered violent.

Claiming the moral high ground in a fight because you are calm is questionable. Assigning blame to the attacker if I use my skills to injure someone in a fight is perhaps understandable, but ultimately not reasonable. I am held liable for my actions in any and all situations, and my mental and emotional state have little bearing on my liability. Sometimes I can say that I was honestly afraid, and had little idea of what my atttacker had on hand and what their intent was. Even that doesn't get me far, sometimes.

For me, studying a martial art is about uncovering, working with, and learning to control my capacity for violence. I am not going to pretend that my participation in the art of love and harmony has actually made me less violent. I am more aware of the potential I have for violence. Which is good because like we are both saying, violence is better controlled. I'm just admitting I have the capacity for it, and you seem to be hiding your capacity under a label of a "non-violent" martial art.

I can see your point here but i would like to clarify something.I don't claim that martial skills and technique cover for ill morals if you use them just to hurt somebody methodically.The ethical part i think is covered since an aikidoka is not supposed to attack somebody or go straight into a fight if he can avoid it.But if it comes down to self deffence then the violent person is the one who attacked the aikidoka in order to harm him.If the aikidoka has high skills in his Art,he can use the attacker's force against him,limiting the damage as much as possible.Even if the attacker is harmed during that confrontation it will be because of his own power used against him and of his own initiative to attack in the first place.Thus,high skilled technique,relaxed,centered body and calm,peacefull mind inside make for non-violent,yet extremely effective martial artist...:)

ryback
12-14-2012, 12:14 PM
Wow, lighten up, Francis. I did read your paragraph. That's my best interpretation of it. If you don't want to clarify, then say so, but don't take an attitude like I'm some kind of idiot because I can't read your mind.

Ooops slight misunderstanding here.I never said or implied that you are an idiot,i wouldn't say such a thing for anybody.You figured out my point for the most part.The "i state them you hate them" was more a joke to state that i prefere the next reader to read my paragraph,no matter how badly written, and decide for himself what he makes out of it.And if he doesn't like it no problem,i don't like every post in every thread either,no big deal...:)

ryback
12-14-2012, 12:16 PM
Wow, lighten up, Francis. I did read your paragraph. That's my best interpretation of it. If you don't want to clarify, then say so, but don't take an attitude like I'm some kind of idiot because I can't read your mind.

And for further clarification,i'm not Francis.Haha!Sorry for that,now back to the topic...:)

Mario Tobias
12-14-2012, 02:01 PM
My description of "violence" is that the aggressor instills fear to the intended recipient or victim.
You can be devastating and violent but also I believe you can be devastating but not violent.

I guess the difference lies in aikido the fact where nage, instead of fear being instilled to the opponent it is respect no matter how devastating nage is. Similar to a blade, it can be feared or respected.

I guess we have all encountered some fights at one point in our lives, physical or otherwise where at the end of the fight the winner senses respect from the loser (the loser being the aggressor).

So my goal in martial arts is to get to a point where I can be feared out of violence to be feared out of respect. Does this then mean that the highest forms of martial arts are non-violent, not only to aikido?

hughrbeyer
12-14-2012, 02:45 PM
I tend towards liberalism on a personal scale, that is, I believe that individuals can transcend, or control, there violent nature...however, so far, we have not seen it demonstrated to any real degree that it can happen on a societal basis. (although I wish it would).

Pinker's point is that it can and has. People used to attend public hangings as a form of amusement; now they don't. People used to abuse those who were put in stocks for fun; we've abolished the stocks and would find the abuse appalling. Queen Elizabeth I had someone hung, drawn and quartered following the old method, which involves hanging them and disemboweling them without killing them, then pulling them to pieces while still alive. A hundred years earlier it was standard treatment for traitors; the reaction in her day was so negative she made sure the executioner killed the next traitor outright by hanging before performing the rest of the treatment.

Society has changed. People have changed. Attitudes have changed. In the west first, but it's spreading along with McDonald's and rock & roll.

Not speaking to you particularly, I've got to laugh at how Steven Pinker has been turned into yet another partisan issue. Since when has levels of violence been a marker of partisan identification? The guy's an academic. Agree with his work or not, you're not going to disprove it by calling it "liberal."

Rob Watson
12-29-2012, 11:41 PM
Found Pinkers book at the local library ... Keeley, too.

Funny thing is Keeley actually was showing that the early "primitives" were just as violent as "moderns". If there is such a drastic drop in violence then how come the early violent actors are shown to be just as violent as the moderns? Presuming one buys into the per capita metric in the first place (which I do not).

Pinkers presents data which shows 77% of violent death in recorded history happened in the 20th century.This does not count ~140 million deaths indirectly causedd by war or 'leviathan'. That is a pretty big mess to sweep under the rug. The only logic which makes this mess go away is to calculate death rates in per capita terms. There are many reasons why a simple per capita calculation is completely inapproprate but I will only present the following example. Consider a desert island with 2 people in which one murders the other. Now consider a neighboring island with 20 people in which one is murdered. Total body bount in both cases is the same but the per capita rate however is 10x different and by this logic the first island is 10 times more violent. Well, if that is the way one wants to think then I pity them greatly. Consider for a moment the possible relationships amongst the parties involved - maybe the 20 where 19 pirates and 1 stranded innocent ... context makes the per capita logic crumble. In either case the sheer numbers of unmurdered does not 'dilute' the issue of the violent acts.

In addition there are several points in which Pinker boldly claims some data set clearly shows on obvious downward trend (provided one ignores the large spikes) - Even without the obvious issue of ignoring the large spikes the downward trends is simply not clear and no explicit regression is presented to support the claims. Note that these 'spikes' were WWI & WWII ... not exactly the kind of events one should cavalierly ignore - even if Pinker proclaims them statistical flukes. In any case there is no statistical rule that permits one to exclude data so one is honor bound to include the spikes and 'flukes' or present cogent argument on why they are not relevant to the analysis at hand (this is hardly the case).

In general the book was a good read (even morso for Keeley) for both entertainment value and it does present some interest for general pondering. Of course one must read such works with their skeptic hat firmly in place. Although long and meandering in many places still worth the effort.

On a personal note - Pinker also uses the "half below average" quip so if the OP had been so critical of Pinker as to me for a simple one-liner then maybe a different weight would be put on the conclusions of Pinker. Note that Pinker befuddles himself by mixing median and mode in a nonsensical way so perhaps I can lend him my "For Dummies" books to brush up a bit.

Mert Gambito
12-30-2012, 02:35 AM
http://www.guillaumeerard.com/images/stories/aikido/articles/violence/self-defense.jpg (http://www.guillaumeerard.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=111:no-the-world-is-not-becoming-a-violent-place-so-what-are-you-getting-out-of-aikido&catid=10:articles&Itemid=110). . . those who mainly seek martial efficacy in training are in my eyes wasting their time developing useless kills, and probably living in irrational fear. . . .

[S]o chill out and enjoy martial art training for what it is: a healthy habit, albeit a slightly silly, and mostly obsolete one.

Many if not most of the members of this site reside in the U.S. Here are the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) compiled national violent crime stats for 1992 - 2011: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/table-1. Indeed, the stats verify that there has been a notable long-term downward trend in violent crime in the U.S. during that time period, i.e. from 1.9 million to 1.2 million annual reported incidents.

Um, 1.2 million is still a heckuva lot of violent crimes, so regarding the sizable U.S. contingent that frequents this site, I wouldn't blame these folks if they consider training mainly for martial efficacy to be a healthy, serious and relevant "habit". If there are any law enforcement or military folks reading this, then obviously it's a given.