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Dennis Hooker
04-03-2003, 08:17 AM
What is meant by the term violence? Is it a physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing as in crimes of violence? Or is it the spontaneous act or an instance of violent action or behavior? I think it is an abusive or unjust exercise of power not the result of an interaction between Aikido and aggression. A passive valiant resolution may follow an aggressive premeditated violent assault. The attacker has intent to do a violent act, abuse or injury. The Aikidoka should never harbor intent to do violence on another person. That is not to say the resulting interaction between an Aikido advocate and an aggressor will not result in some short sever repercussions to the aggressor. However it is the content of the Aikido persons mind and heart that determine if that repercussion was an act of violence. Not the outcome of the act its self. This could be said of any martial art I think.


Just my hillbilly opinion
Dennis Hooker
www.shindai.com

kung fu hamster
04-03-2003, 08:26 AM
"The Aikidoka should never harbor intent to do violence on another person."

What about a budoka? Are you saying never the twain shall meet? All I can say is, we're all human. I don't know if the above statement is really what aikidoka are aiming for...?

Dennis Hooker
04-03-2003, 08:54 AM
Linda, I may be misunderstanding you response so please forgive me if I am on the wrong tract here. If another person can get into your head and cause your mind to become troubled with violent intent and you act on that intent, then you have taken the first step toward being controlled by that person. I believe Aikido is about rising above the violent and vindictive mind into self control. If a person harbors violence in their heart and mind they become a violent person. Aikido took me from being a very violent person into a being a better human being. It also added greatly to my martial skills which and been honed in the field and in the dojo to a fairly sharp edge of the years. I believe now, through Aikido, I have the ability to handle the knowledge and skill wisely or at least more wisely than I did 30 years ago.

DGLinden
04-03-2003, 09:13 AM
I think that a violent act is the ultimate definition of itself. It matters not whether your heart is pure - if you crush someone's elbow it is violent. If you break someones back - even if they attack you first, it is violent.

Terry told us a lovely story over twenty five years ago when we were still young - remember the story about the coal miner and the old man on the train? He was ready to do violence and the old man just did real aikido.

MikeE
04-03-2003, 09:30 AM
Physical violence is an inevitability in any martial art. The question should be more around how the resolution is enacted.

I, in some part, practice Aikido to be safe. Knowing that I may have to use my skills, but, developing the morality, and the ability to control what I do becomes most important. At this level, ethical choices can be made at the moment of blending; I can, and must, make a clear ethical choice at that moment: strike, throw, control, or evade. This is the moment when true benevolence can be expressed, or ignored.

In this way, Aikido becomes a test of character and the violence becomes less of a focus.

kung fu hamster
04-03-2003, 09:52 AM
I think aikido is very valuable in giving the practitioner a wide spectrum of options when it comes to resolving conflict, but I am sure there are law enforcement people and military folks who practice aikido and intend to use it with that wide spectrum in mind. I think they will find a peaceful resolution if at all possible, but I'll bet they're resolute in using drastic measures if the situation calls for it. The military isn't in Iraq with the intent to play pattycake. I deplore that a win/win solution couldn't be resolved diplomatically, but since we're firmly stuck to the tarbaby, I can only hope that despite our violent action, the US intent is really to help the Iraqi people. Maybe I'm confusing your statement with 'ends not justifying means'. Or I could be really confused, as my teachers keep telling me... :rolleyes:

happysod
04-03-2003, 09:57 AM
When the results of physical interaction are considered less important than the "purity of intent" of the practitioner, I get very very scared. This type of divorcing action from intent has led to some of the more unwholesome ethnic and religious cleansing in history, often in the name of what is "good" (ok, extreem case I know, but large errors start small).

I agree, good practitioners of any martial art can mitigate the level of violence they use and this is an ethical decision where intent matters. However, the results of any martial art technique used are violent to a greater or lesser degree. If your intent was truely non-violent, you would never use any MA technique, no matter what the provocation. Instead, as has been intimated in previous posts, the techniques are just a part of the philosophical training and effectively "not for use" in a wider context.

jxa127
04-03-2003, 10:02 AM
Hello all,

I belive it is really easy for us to over-think the relationship between aikido and violence. In America, where everything needs an easily recognized brand or a simple message, it is very easy to get caught up in very black and white thinking.

Aikido either is or is not violent. Yes or no? Either somebody is a criminal or not -- zero tolerance; three strikes, your out. We seem, as a culture, to have lost all sense of degree and perspective. Aikido, for me, instruduces and reinforces perspective and degree.

Very simply, I consider violence to be the act of intentionally causing harm. So, I think boxing is violent, but sport wrestling typically isn't. Using that definition, I experience very little violence in aikido. I certainly don't feel violence when I'm training.

However, we study relationships where somebody wants to do great harm to us. Our practice itself is not violent, but we study violence and how to cope with it.

So, what about on "the street," is aikido violent "out there"? I suppose that if attacked, I may want to harm my opponent. On the other hand, the one time when I had to use physical technique outside the dojo, I was able to throw and pin in such a way that my "uke" was unharmed (I got a bruise from a nearby chair, though).

So, I don't think there is really an answer to the question, but I like Hooker sensei's statement,
The Aikidoka should never harbor intent to do violence on another person.
Regards,

-Drew

kung fu hamster
04-03-2003, 10:44 AM
You guys are all so nice. You make me feel like an evil barracuda. I agree, Dennis's statement is a lovely sentiment! :)

DGLinden
04-03-2003, 10:50 AM
I have to say, Drew, that you live in a different world than I do. I believe that words and actions mean something and mitigating circumstances do not matter when the final analysis is made.

If you break someones arm in a loving 'aiki mind' way you still put him in a cast for 6 weeks and leave him subject to his livlihood.

Kindly, loving intent won't bring someone back to life. Violence is violence and your 'intent' simply doesn't matter. Aikido is very good at allowing us to mitigate the results of violent actions, but it is simply nonsense to think that what we do is anything but extreme violence. Utter nonsense. How many wives are battered by men who 'love them soooo much...' How many children die at the hands of fathers or boyfriends who discipline them for their own good because they 'love them'?

Should the courts excuse them for their violence because it is done with loving intent? Get real. All martial arts teach people how to perform violent actions on their fellow people. If you need to mitigate THAT with some philosophical mumbo jumbo about 'intent' then I would hate to listen to you discuss politics.

No offense intended.

Russ Qureshi
04-03-2003, 11:09 AM
Mastering that violent beast within, eh? I've been practising for 9 years now and have never had to engage with an attacker physically during that time..., so...., I DON'T KNOW if I would react violently. I BELIEVE that if it were a situation whereby I was defending my loved ones I would be perfectly capable of resorting to utter ("I can't believe I did that to another person") violence.

I DO KNOW that the past years of training have offered me a unique opportunity to discover just who "I" am and what I value. I like to think that given the right set of circumstances, in a physical confrontation, I would choose the take down over the break. But, I don't really know.

Terrys' story is the pinnacle of Aikido to me. To take in all that rage and to give back compassion and empathy. The openness and emptiness needed to remain "in the moment" during that kind of situation....WOW.

I think those of us with little or no actual "fighting" experience tread on thin ice with this particular topic of discussion so I'm going to stop while I can....

More from Dennis and Daniel, please....

Sincerely,

Russ

John Boswell
04-03-2003, 11:46 AM
What is meant by the term violence?

Is it a physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing as in crimes of violence?

Or is it the spontaneous act or an instance of violent action or behavior?
I contend that it is a bit of both: violation and abuse with damage as well as acts or instances or violent behavior. Braking an arm after deciding to... is the first one. Shouting or threatening someone can be the second.

What really needs to be considered when debating the definition of violence is not just Intent (which is a major factor) but also Control. There is such thing as Good Control and Bad Control and this is where Aikido stands out from the crowd.

In Aikido, a skilled artist will execute Good Control with blending with the attack, leading it and executing technique to the result of a locked up or fallen uke. None of this has to be violent. Where violence comes in is when the pin results in a broken or damaged limb, a fall that causes sever damage, pain or possibly death. If technique is done well and skillfully, the uke will land or fall or whatever properly and without injury. BAD Control will result in a "violent" result and injury.

Was there bad intent? Possibly. IF the intent was to bring about injury, then yes... you've just witnessed an act of violence. IF the intent was not to bring about injury but yet it DID... then the action was violent, despite what the nage may have intended. Good control and good skill would prevent such violence.

Aikido is not violent, but it can be. I submit that "aikido" being exercised in such a way as to hurt others or bring about injury is NOT in fact true Aikido, but instead became basic violence. It would be poor control, irresponsible, non-Aiki and not anything we should be striving to achieve in our training.

Looking at it all this way gives us good reason to train: to not be violent. ;)

... that's my 2 bits.

:ai: :ki: :do:

Dennis Hooker
04-03-2003, 12:06 PM
It seems everyone has a little different opinion about violence, and a different evaluation about what I wrote. I personally believe the response to aggression should be final and tempered with good judgment. I do not think it should change me emotionally or mentally. I did not use the word love anywhere and I did not mention ethics. Another subject though not altogether unrelated. I am not sure my original meaning was very well transmitted. I believe Aikido is a very aggressive art. The moment the attack is identified the counter attack starts. To me Aikido is very pro active. I do believe that what is in a person's mind and heart mater. It is I believe what sets us apart and gives us that ability to move beyond the base animal "human being" to the more discriminating art of "being human" and realizing the consequence that should go along with that.

Again I have probably misstated my mind by hell I just a hick form the sticks trying to make since of a lifetime doing this stuff.

jxa127
04-03-2003, 12:30 PM
Daniel G. Linden wrote:
I have to say, Drew, that you live in a different world than I do. I believe that words and actions mean something and mitigating circumstances do not matter when the final analysis is made.

If you break someones arm in a loving 'aiki mind' way you still put him in a cast for 6 weeks and leave him subject to his livlihood.
No, we live in the same world. What do you consider violence? If I accidentally bump my wife, and she turns or sprains her ankle, is that violence? What if I make a mistake in training and accidentally give my uke (or nage, for that matter) a fat lip? Is that violence?

I defined violence as "the act of intentionally causing harm." That does not mean that I condone causing harm unintentionally! Whether it is through neglect, incompetence, or a simple mistake, I will take my share of responsibility for harm that I've caused. It is not so simple as something either being an act of violence or an act of benevolence. That's that black and white thinking again. I can cause harm, accidentally, in a non-violent manner, and still be responsible.

With this in mind, I do not think our day-to-day aikido practice is violent. I don't believe anyone I normally train with is intending to do me harm. Rather, we work hard at providing safe as well as vigorous training. We study violence, we provide good attacks, we work hard to learn about how to handle violence, but our practice is, itself, not violent.
Kindly, loving intent won't bring someone back to life. Violence is violence and your 'intent' simply doesn't matter.
Daniel, this just doesn't compute. If I say violence is the act of intentionally causing harm, and you say that intent doesn't matter, then we're simply using the terms differently. It sounds to me as though you are talking about injury, harm, and/or death.
Aikido is very good at allowing us to mitigate the results of violent actions, but it is simply nonsense to think that what we do is anything but extreme violence. Utter nonsense. How many wives are battered by men who 'love them soooo much...' How many children die at the hands of fathers or boyfriends who discipline them for their own good because they 'love them'?
Now you're talking about abuse. Of course physical abuse is violence! But, there are other kinds of abuse that are non-violent. Neglect is a very serious form of passive abuse that need not be violent to be devastating.

Reading your post, it almost seems that you are equating defending yourself ("If you break someones arm in a loving 'aiki mind' …; I assumed you meant when attacked), with beating a child or wife. Was that your intent? Or were you talking about abuse all along?
Should the courts excuse them for their violence because it is done with loving intent? Get real. All martial arts teach people how to perform violent actions on their fellow people. If you need to mitigate THAT with some philosophical mumbo jumbo about 'intent' then I would hate to listen to you discuss politics.

No offense intended.
Right. Do you honestly expect that I'll read that last paragraph and not be offended? I'll take your word that you did not intend to offend me, but you've got to realize that personal attacks can be offensive.

For the record, I don't think my definition of violence is the be all and end all. My example of neglect, for example, causes problems because it is possible that parents can neglect their children with intent to harm them. Is that violence even though it is lack of action rather than action that causes the harm? I don't know.

I do know, that in the context of aikido practice, we focus on physical violence manifested as an act of intentionally causing harm. Our ideal, as I understand it, is to deal with that attack in a manner where neither the attacker nor the person attacked is harmed. Yes, we practice techniques that can cause harm. Yes, that would be a violent application of aikido. But was also practice throws and pins that need not cause harm. I've done this outside the dojo once -- the only injury was a bruise I got from bumping into a nearby chair.

Aikido need not automatically be violent.

Regards,

-Drew

kung fu hamster
04-03-2003, 12:59 PM
John Boswell, I like your analogies about 'good control' 'bad control' and 'poor control'. I believe aikido people do fall into those categories according to their progress in the art. In order to exercise an option you have to have options to begin with, and so I practice aikido to expand my range of options. If I'm lucky I'll sail through life with people all agreeing how soft and fuzzy I am (here my dojo-mates will laugh their heads off), but if one day during some emergency situation I really need that iron fist in my velvet glove, I think I'd feel very sorry if I only used the velvet glove to store marshmallows. That being said, I think most everyone in my dojo accepts that one's response to accidental injury is considered to be part of the training, if it happens. Since the intent was not there to purposely injure the person, then it is usually accepted with the determination to improve our timing, distance, skills, control, whatever. I don't know that I'd call that violence, however.

TomE
04-03-2003, 02:24 PM
30. Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men / doesn't try to force issues / or defeat enemies by force of arms. / For every force there is a counterforce. / Violence, even well intentioned, / always rebounds upon oneself. / The Master does his job / and then stops. / He understands that the universe / is forever out of control, / and that trying to dominate events / goes against the current of the Tao. / Because he believes in himself, / he doesn't try to convince others. / Because he is content with himself, / he doesn't need other's approval. / Because he accepts himself, / the whole world accepts him.

31. Weapons are the tools of violence; / all decent men detest them. / Weapons are the tools of fear; / a decent man will avoid them / except in the direst necessity / and, if compelled, will use them / only with the utmost restraint. / Peace is his highest value. / If the peace has been shattered, / how can he be content? / His enemies are not demons, / but human beings like himself. / He doesn't wish them personal harm. / Nor does he rejoice in victory. / How could he rejoice in victory, / and delight in the slaughter of men? / He enters a battle gravely, / with sorrow and with great compassion, / as if he were attending a funeral.

Lao Tzu - Tao Te Ching (translation: Stephen Mitchell)

Now in reality, I'm only human too. But I try, I really try :)

Guest5678
04-03-2003, 02:32 PM
Nature itself (which is one of the great teachers) provides plenty of "violence". Does it intend to harm us...? We are all a part of that very nature. It's born within us whether we want it or not.

Violence is merely a label we use to describe a very natural and quite common event.

Aikido is for some an illusion, for others a clarity, for all, a path of self-discovery.

-Mongo

W^2
04-03-2003, 02:42 PM
Violence as defined by Webster-Merriam:

Main Entry: vi·o·lence

Function: noun

Date: 14th century

1 a : exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse (as in effecting illegal entry into a house) b : an instance of violent treatment or procedure

2 : injury by or as if by distortion, infringement, or profanation : OUTRAGE

3 a : intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force <the violence of the storm> b : vehement feeling or expression : FERVOR; also : an instance of such action or feeling c : a clashing or jarring quality : DISCORDANCE

4 : undue alteration (as of wording or sense in editing a text)

Therefore, Aikido is in principle and by definition non-violent - as O’ Sensei said ‘Aikido is the principle of non-resistance’. In addition, Aikido accepts and deals with conflict as a naturally occurring phenomenon, regardless of whether anyone agrees with the definition of violence given above. It is the how and why of dealing with conflict that sets Aikido apart from other Martial Arts; rather than exploiting people’s weaknesses destructively, it redirects their misguided thoughts, intentions, and actions proactively toward a peaceful resolution. Intentions do not justify actions – this is also known as accepting responsibility for one’s self. Hence, as Aikidoka we have to train responsibly and sincerely with the proper mindset - in fact this is the first step in any true Martial Arts training. First we overcome ourselves, and then we can act properly. Here it is important to realize that thoughts turn into intentions, and then into actions – this is what I believe O’ Sensei spoke about when he said ‘move in an instant and take your opponents mind’ to paraphrase a bit. On a personal note, I do think it is ironic that many people discuss and think of Aikido and other Martial Arts ‘physically’. Therefore I will leave you with a highly plausible ‘physical’ scenario to think about...

An Aikidoka, sober and centered, is in a Night Club standing with their back to the wall not interacting with anyone. Suddenly a decidedly intoxicated patron - having mistaken the Aikidoka for someone else – attacks with a right cross. The Aikidoka simply steps off-line and the assailant breaks his hand and wrist having struck the wall full force. Did the Aikidoka act violently? Should they have redirected the punch away from the wall and utilized a control technique instead?

Something to ponder...

~Ward

W^2
04-03-2003, 04:33 PM
That's supposed to be Merriam-Webster, pardon my dyslexia.

~Ward

opherdonchin
04-03-2003, 05:33 PM
Violence is a seeming. I guess all things are seemings: this was a tree, but then it became lumber, and now it is a table. One day it will be firewood. My point is that what I 'see' as violence in me will not necessarily 'seem' violent to someone else and sometimes I will experience myself as loving and caring while my partner may experience me as threatening and violent.

I've heard it said that when AiKiDo is done at the highest level, the uke should feel like they happened to stumble or slip and not like they were thrown. If this is true, the uke might not experience me as violent at all, but if I was uncaring or even purposefully hurtful in my technique, I might recognize a lot of violence in my self and choose to confront it.

Obviously the other thing happens to me all the time: I think I'm being loving and gentle, but my uke things I'm forcing the technique and trying to throw them.

W^2
04-03-2003, 06:26 PM
While the perception and perspective of a violent experience is certainly subjective, the concept of violence (it is a noun you know) isn't subjective. The results of physical acts of violence are usually empirically measurable.

This is an important distinction...

~Ward

Kevin Leavitt
04-03-2003, 07:36 PM
I think with Aikido or budo in general you must come to grip with the yin/yang of violence/nonviolence.

It doesn't seem so easy to define as black and white.

Aikido is both violent and nonviolent at the same time. The ability to choose between options and control or channel the action that results is what matters.

I just finished reading a good book by Thict Nhat Hahn on Anger. Highly recommend it for anyone studying aikido or interested in controlling anger. Anger (emotion) is what causes violence (action).

It is nearly impossible to avoid the emotion or feelings of anger...but it is what we do with it that matters.

I think in Aikido it is important to study and recognize the violence that is present in our technique and principles. It is really the only way we can respect it, and truly be nonviolent in action.

happysod
04-04-2003, 02:40 AM
I promise I'll leave these ones alone from now on, but couldn't resist one more...

Ward "An Aikidoka, sober and centered, ... The Aikidoka simply steps off-line and the assailant breaks his hand and wrist having struck the wall full force. Did the Aikidoka act violently? Should they have redirected the punch away from the wall and utilized a control technique instead?"

Agree with you in this instance, this was a non-violent response. Any avoidance tactic(including the good old "run like buggery") is a valid, non-violent response. I also fully agree with everyone who states the principles of aikido are a guide towards non-violence.

However, I wouldn't agree with "inherently non-violent" as even (especially?) with a philosophy, statements of intent and method to achieve this goal must be balanced - aikido is (as far as I'm aware) still a MA which involves using techniques designed for the purposes of impairing an attacker's ability. If you are totally opposed to violence in any form, why are you practicing a martial art?

Even if you wish to control and limit this aspect of your character/circumstances by becoming skilled enough to render violent conflicts null rather than expand the conflict, you have still accepted there is violence and are (very sensibly I think) choosing a path than dimishes violence rather than feeding it. However, the violent aspect is still there.

It is on the subject of aikido technique that I think I'm disagreeing with most of the posters. If you conciously use a martial art technique, for whatever reason, on another person, you are being violent. The violence can be justified and used with perfect control and purity of intent, but is still violence.

As promised, I'll shut up on this subject now (good thread though).

kung fu hamster
04-04-2003, 08:32 AM
An Aikidoka, sober and centered, is in a Night Club standing with their back to the wall not interacting with anyone. Suddenly a decidedly intoxicated patron - having mistaken the Aikidoka for someone else – attacks with a right cross. The Aikidoka simply steps off-line and the assailant breaks his hand and wrist having struck the wall full force. ~Ward
Huh, if I encountered such an incident and I could handle it with such effortless expertise my teacher would sport a grin from ear to ear. Guys, don't worry, with all my aikido skills my best option in any altercation would be to run away, not resort to violence (yes, I know, best to avoid any altercations in the first place)... but I do know from prior experience that I wouldn't let an attacker find me an easy pushover. I think one of the best things about aikido is that I can try to train myself to stay aware and find a win/win solution as my first automatic response in any situation... and that's an attitude that I can apply in daily life.

opherdonchin
04-04-2003, 12:20 PM
I'm confused. Is their really such a big difference between letting someone run into a wall or letting them run into my first or causing them through subtle unbalancing to fly into the air and slam into the ground? This seems like a very subtle distinction to me.

W^2
04-04-2003, 01:59 PM
With all due respect to those that have responded to my posts, you've failed to grasp what was written and I do not think I could have been more lucid, which isn't necessarily the fault of the reader. Of course you will all recognize that the forums are nothing more than an Aikido based Rorschach test - you know, the ink blots. Often our commentary reveals more about how we think than what we know of a subject, and it seems readily apparent to me that the responses to my posts are no exception. Rather than connecting all the dots explicitly I tend to exclude logical connectors for the sake of brevity - they're implicit in what was written though.

Nevertheless...

Hello Ian,

The scenario was a moral dichotomy of sorts; do you allow your opponent to harm himself or not?

If you can explicitly define the violence in Aikido, then by all means do, so far no one has. However, please reread my first post and point out the inconsistencies clearly. Think your idea through and make your case!

I can't tell from the context whether you were making a general statement or referring to me regarding your statement, 'If you are totally opposed to violence in any form, why are you practicing a martial art?’ For the sake of clarity, that was not stated or implied in any of my posts.

By the way, don’t shut up.

Hello Linda,

If your first instinct to a hand moving rapidly toward your face isn't to avoid it, then you should develop this reflex - for most it is natural – and there’s nothing ‘expert’ about responding with the simplest solution. In fact in the inherently violent art of Muay Thai I always avoid and redirect rather than meet force with force, which is the opposite of what others in my class with a Karate background tend to do. We all tend to ‘run home to momma’ so to speak don’t we?

Finally, It was just a hypothetical scenario – I’m far too menacing looking to be bothered by people in bars.

Sorry to all about this post – it is a bit off topic.

~Ward

Dave Dean
04-04-2003, 02:41 PM
If another person can get into your head and cause your mind to become troubled with violent intent and you act on that intent, then you have taken the first step toward being controlled by that person.
This is exactly the point I've been trying to get across to some members of my church community online, in regards to dealing with a particularly troublesome troll. He won't go away because they keep feeding him their anger; he asks for it and they give it to him. He's controlling them to the point where they set aside their compassion, courtesy, and common sense. Very frustrating to watch, and I wish I could enroll all of them in aikido :)

kung fu hamster
04-04-2003, 03:32 PM
Hi Ward,

Sorry, I'm at the 'confused' stage where I think too much and my tai sabaki has way too much lag time...I probably would get in my own way and catch a punch in the snoot...

:eek:

DaveForis
04-04-2003, 04:45 PM
(chuckles) I love this argument. It's only happened how many hundreds of times on different threads? :)

How 'bout this for a definition for violence (and food for argument--I mean thought ;)):

Violence is the act of forcing your will upon another person.

And, ya know, for all of you that try to make violence a completely subjective and empirically self-existent thing, don't forget that violence (even if it is a noun) does not exist on its own. It is not some thing that just _is_. In order to have violence, you have to have someone with the intent to be violent first (and it's that many people have this intent that makes violence seem like a subjective "thing" (a.k.a. a "noun")).

For the abusive parent, his intent isn't to discipline a child to help it grow. It's to get the "little bastard to shut up!!"(example, not a specific quote) or behave in some way which the abusive parent will find less stressful. The intent in this case is a completely selfish, "I don't want to deal with this child or take the time to be understanding and nurturing so I am going to take the quickest possible method that gets results." And because of the selfish, forceful basis of the intent behind the punishment, violence (abuse) results.

Pretty simple, really. Take a look at any situation and look specifically at the intent of an action. That's the tell right there. Violence is a "thing" that is very much tied up in, and results from, emotions, especially selfish and dominating ones.

As for martial arts techniques, they aren't violent. They are tools. It's how you use them that matters, not what they can do. I have a swiss army knife I carry everywhere. I could pull out the blade, stab someone a few times, pull out the corkscrew attachment and poke the person's eyes out, and then pull out the saw attachment to saw their head off to keep as a trophy. Is that violent? Ohhhhh yeah. That's why I only use it to cut open boxes and fix things. :)

So. When you use a technique on someone, do you want to maim, destroy, and make the person utterly submit to you, or do you want to keep them from harming you and do the _best_ _you_ _can_ to keep them from harming themselves as well?

As for just dodging the punch and letting someone hurt themselves, don't forget that it is perfectly ethically acceptable to allow someone to suffer the negative consequences of their own negative actions. If someone attacks me without provocation and I accidentally (remember intent) break their arm, oh well. They screwed up and decided to be violent and now they have to deal with the consequences. I'll probably feel bad afterward, but I didn't (in this hypothetical example. I don't know that I'm enlightened enough to react non-violently in a real situation) intend to add more punishment than what the attacker already subjected themself to the possibility of.

I like the example in the dojo of an accident happening and someone getting hurt. Do you consider that a horrible, violent act, or just a simple mistake and go on with training? Maybe it has more to do with control. Maybe violence is just a lack of control, especially of negativity, selfishness, and the need to dominate others.

paw
04-05-2003, 06:51 AM
Dave,
Violence is the act of forcing your will upon another person.

By this definition, pinning someone is violent. Law Enforcement officers arresting someone is violent. A judge sentancing a criminal is violent.
As for martial arts techniques, they aren't violent. They are tools. It's how you use them that matters, not what they can do.

The classic counter argument is that tools were originally designed for a purpose. That purpose may be and should be examined ethically. A firearm can be used to open mail, but it was most likely designed with the idea of killing something or someone. A scientist can rationalize working on a new military weapon by saying, "this could have other applications in society", but that doesn't omit the fact the weapon was designed to cause violence.

Why have techniques where limbs may be broken or vital points struck? Is not sankyo an act of violence (forcing your will on someone by limiting the way and direction in which they can move without pain or injury)?
If someone attacks me without provocation and I accidentally (remember intent) break their arm, oh well. They screwed up and decided to be violent and now they have to deal with the consequences.

Actually, since you live in the USA, you are responsible for your actions under the law. If a DA determines based on a police report that accidentally or incidentally, breaking someone's arm was excessive, you will be charged and prosectuted. It's not just a moral/ethical issue. It is also a legal one.

Regards,

Paul

Dave Dean
04-05-2003, 10:18 AM
Maybe it shouldn't be a question of "is aikido violent" but "is it excessively violent?"

If someone is trying to hurt you, you DO want to force your will upon them to make them stop.

Even if you do accept that definition for violence, it's just common sense that aikido techniques are less violent than smashing your attacker in the face, intentionally breaking his arm, or using pepper spray or a gun. Unless maybe you use it to throw them through a 3rd-floor window... :)

mike lee
04-05-2003, 12:32 PM
Aikido isn't violent, I am. So if I eliminate “I,” there is no one to become violent. This is one of the basic purposes of zen meditation.

The Buddhists recommend certain types of “medicine” for certain ailments. For anger, which leads to violence, they recommend meditation.

At the moment of confrontation in a street fight, all emotions interfere with clear thinking. This includes love, hate, anger, etc. Remaining calm and clear allows one to remain in the ultimate state of readiness.

I've been in countless confrontations where a potential attacker is enraged. He is waiting for and expects a reaction from me. When none comes, he starts to become confused, he babbles, he doesn't know how to respond. Like a brief, but violent thunderstorm, he starts to blow himself out. The confrontation ends because the equation is not 1 plus 1, but 1 plus 0. He, therefore, has nothing to fight. What I appear to be and what I really am are two different things.

If and when he attacks, he's easily thrown because by not being in control of his emotions, he's easily unbalanced.

Even if he did attack, say with a knife, the same principle would apply. I would remain calm and clear — no “I,” no fear — a void. Even if I broke his arm in self-defense, I would be calm, clear, and not violent.

An onlooker may say the action was “violent,” but my essential nature would not be violent, because “I” would not exist. “I” simply interferes with my clarity of mind, so therefore, there is no use for it.

P.S. In normal conversation, “I” is simply a manner of speaking, but in fact it is an illusion and in no way describes true reality. Until a person discovers their essence, they can never really know what this reality is. In the meantime, as far as I know, zen meditation is the best course of action.

mike lee
04-05-2003, 02:05 PM
I would just like to add that while I've found the principles outlined in my previous post to be useful in most hostile confrontations, in so far as spiritual cultivation under “normal” conditions is concerned, I'm beginning to resort more and more to the wisdom put forth in the Bible. I've realized that cultivating the spirit of love in the moment to moment experiences of daily life is highly enriching.

While studying tai chi chuan, a master once told me that it was essential to understand that “the spirit controls the mind, the mind controls the chi, and the chi controls the body.”

So more and more I began to wonder, “what's the right spirit?”

Biblically speaking, God is spirit, and God is said to be love. It seems, therefore, that the highest or the best spirit to proceed from would in fact be the spirit of love.

Of course, this opens up a whole new can of worms, because we must study more to begin to understand what the spirit of love really is! Maybe some of my concepts of love are wrong, and I need to replace them with correct ones. Only then can I start off on the right foot by properly moving my mind with the spirit of love.

1 John 4:18

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”

In the end, from a martial-artist's point of view, I'm hoping this all comes together.

In a fight, for example, one of the first things we must overcome is our own fear. But from the above statement, we can see that by perfecting the spirit of love in ourselves, we can eliminate fear. I think that for a martial artist, this would be a very important concept, and worth considering.

This is why I have now set myself out on the path of perfecting love in my daily life. It seems to me that the accumulated spiritual power that we gather from daily spiritual cultivation, coupled with martial-arts training in the proper way, can greatly enhance many aspects of our lives.

opherdonchin
04-05-2003, 02:32 PM
Hey Mike,

I thought that was all really nicely said. There are, of course, other ways and traditions of cultivating Love, but that's not the important thing. The important thing, for me, is the way that you caught the balance between the self-less ideal of traditional Buddhism with an essentially Self centered ideal of Loving. This always seems to me a really important and interseting tension.

paw
04-05-2003, 04:44 PM
Dave Dean,
If someone is trying to hurt you, you DO want to force your will upon them to make them stop.
Do you? That's a personal decision, and there are countless examples of where people rationally chose to NOT stop someone who was hurting them. The demonstrations of Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. come to mind.
Even if you do accept that definition for violence, it's just common sense that aikido techniques are less violent than smashing your attacker in the face, intentionally breaking his arm, or using pepper spray or a gun.

I disagree, based on the understanding of the laws of the state in which I live (laws in MO may differ). OC (pepper spray) is non-injurious. So it would be preferred for a civilian to use OC before using any physical technique.

I further disagree based on common sense. OC: requires much less training to use effectively, allows for greater distance (and thus greatly reduces the chance I will be injured), has a large body of evidence that attests to it's effectiveness, and causes no lasting injury. Additionally, some brands of OC contain a UV dye allowing for positive indentification after the incident. Finally, if OC does not deter the attack, there is strong legal evidence for moving up the force continuum.

If aikido techniques are so "safe", why is so much time spent is teaching ukemi? Why the concern with breakfalls?

Regards,

Paul

mike lee
04-06-2003, 01:48 AM
The important thing, for me, is the way that you caught the balance between the self-less ideal of traditional Buddhism with an essentially Self centered ideal of Loving.

Intersting ideas, but I have to wonder if perfect love is also selfless — if many paths can lead up to the same mountain peak.

mike lee
04-06-2003, 03:33 AM
If aikido techniques are so "safe", why is so much time spent is teaching ukemi? Why the concern with breakfalls?

I've thrown people several times on concrete and they were not seriously hurt — just stunned and surprised.

Muggers or people who want to fight are usually young, fairly healthy, and pumped up on adrenalin and maybe drugs and alchohol. Because they are caught by surprise, they usually fall well and naturally because they have no time to tense up from fear.

In the dojo, conditions are different. People see others taking breakfalls, they have time to think about it, tense up and become afraid.

Dave Dean
04-06-2003, 10:52 AM
Paul, OK, I'll give you that one on pepper spray. :)

But after some more thought I'm not sure I really can accept that definition of violence anyway. It implies that the following things are inherently violent:

Government: legislation is the will, the executive branch carries it out, the judicial branch imposes its own will.

Public education, as it's required by law; also the teachers have a high degree of authority to make rules and punish transgressions.

Parenting: any standards of behavior that you hold the child to, and the discipline to support it.

A doctor's order.

A locked door: imposes your will on others that they do not enter the room.

Clothing: imposing your will that others not see your nakedness.

Self-discipline: telling myself I need to get off the couch and exercise, or stopping myself from ordering dessert, is an act of violence by this definition.

Social norms, ethics and morality: all of these impose the will of a culture upon the individual.

So I don't think I'll go with that one. :)

I think a definition of violence has to consider the concept of (not necessarily physical) harm. But a fired shot that misses its target and does no harm is still violent. A tornado that touches down in a junkyard, tosses stuff around that nobody cares about, and then departs without hurting any living beings or valuable property, is still violent. A swear word yelled suddenly inside a car, which the other drivers don't hear, is still violent. Falling down the stairs or sliding your car on a patch of ice and hitting a tree have no harmful intent but are still violent. Meanwhile, such things as poison, illness, and negative thinking cause harm, but are not necessarily violent...

And of course there's a difference between pain and damage (as evidenced by the pepper spray, or nikkyo).

SeiserL
04-06-2003, 01:37 PM
IMHO, Aikido is a tool of self expression. Aikido techniques are guided by the intent of the user. Aikido, itself if there is such a thing, is neither violent nor nonviolent. Perhaps we should train so that we use as little as possible but enough to be effective.

opherdonchin
04-06-2003, 02:45 PM
Plenty of people have claimed that governments and public education are inherently violent. While I'm not sure I agree with this, I don't think it should be dismissed out of hand.

Here's a question: if we are so unclear about what violence is, why not being violent so important to us?

opherdonchin
04-06-2003, 02:48 PM
Intersting ideas, but I have to wonder if perfect love is also selfless — if many paths can lead up to the same mountain peak.I'd agree with both these ideas. However, just because all paths lead to the same peak doesn't mean that all paths will be equally appropriate to me. There is a choice or a balancing between these two extremes in my own life, and it feels to me like my path has a lot to do with noticing and appreciating that tension.

paw
04-06-2003, 04:36 PM
Dave (Dean),
But after some more thought I'm not sure I really can accept that definition of violence anyway.

I don't agree with that definition of violence either and gave some counter examples myself. Dave Foris originally submitted that definition of violence.

Lynn,
Aikido techniques are guided by the intent of the user.
Be that as it may, we cannot know the intent of the user (indeed, the user may not fully know their intent either).
Perhaps we should train so that we use as little as possible but enough to be effective.

Here I think Dan's earlier posts are worth consideration. "As little as possible" may still result in a bruises, broken bones or death. Being of pure intent won't make someone any less bruised, broken or dead.

Regards,

Paul

jimvance
04-06-2003, 05:28 PM
But after some more thought I'm not sure I really can accept that definition of violence anyway. It implies that the following things are inherently violent...This is such a great thread! Kudos to Hooker Sensei for offering up such a good idea, regardless of how many permutations it may have been asked in before this particular thread.

I like Dave's quote here because it betrays the fact that we still take a very subjective view on violence. I like to eat meat, but every time I do, I think about the cow that was killed for my steak. In a sense, it was a form of violence that allows me to live, and it is acceptable, it fits the social perspective. The proponents of PETA would say something like "meat is murder", and they would be entirely justified. It doesn't make my steak taste any less good though.
I think a definition of violence has to consider the concept of (not necessarily physical) harm. But a fired shot that misses its target and does no harm is still violent. A tornado that touches down in a junkyard, tosses stuff around that nobody cares about, and then departs without hurting any living beings or valuable property, is still violent. A swear word yelled suddenly inside a car, which the other drivers don't hear, is still violent. Falling down the stairs or sliding your car on a patch of ice and hitting a tree have no harmful intent but are still violent. Meanwhile, such things as poison, illness, and negative thinking cause harm, but are not necessarily violent...Here I think is where the argument splits into two camps: harm. We always look at violence as causing harm; we reference the idea of violence through the filter of "harm is bad, no harm is good" and we are entirely justified in doing so.

I looked up the word "violent" and it comes from a latin word meaning strength. Nothing is wrong with strength, right? But strength causing harm is bad, wrong, morally deplorable. We don't look at a tornado as wrong, it is beyond our control, what we still refer to as an "act of God", even though we know it is the atmosphere that caused it. And Dave is correct, there are lots of ways to cause pain, injury, and death that we would not consider "violent".

Rationalizing our actions becomes little more than trying to fit patterns to events. Why? So we can learn from them maybe, and use the pattern to our benefit. We live in a violent universe, a universe of force. Birth is violent, I have three sons and witnessed them being born, but it was a beautiful violence. Maybe what we are doing in budo is learning about violence, using it where it is fitting, releasing the emotional baggage surrounding the pattern. Maybe we learn to use the force in the universe, free from the mental agitation when we think we need or are confronted with violent activity.

I saw some of the newer Hubble photos showing two galaxies colliding. That is violence on a level we cannot even comprehend, but it is a wonderful discovery. Aikido to me means applied violence, the best use of force. I think if we divorce it from the ideals of emotional pain and harm, either through seeing it as an empty force, or by reversing the polarity, and calling it love, we begin to see things very differently from most of humanity, and that is a blessing.

Jim Vance

mike lee
04-07-2003, 03:42 AM
I think the "bad" kind of violence that we should be considering is an emotion. A person can feel when a thirst for blood and vengence wells up inside. It's not good, and in my opinion, its not right.

I learned the difference by observing two completely contrasting football players in the NFL. One was Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkis. His game was based on fear, intimidation, and trying to take opposition players out of the game, literally.

Another was Oakland Raiders defensive lineman and Hall of Famer Howie Long. Although a great tackler and sacker of quarterbacks, he once said on an NFL Films interview that he "abhorred violence," and it showed in the way he played.

For him, it was a game of skill and finesse. He played the game the way I think that it was originally meant to be played. He didn't try to put quarterbacks in the hospital, he just brought them down to the ground and got the job done. The tackle was just the end result of his skill in getting there. The way he pulled down a quartback often looked like a father playfully wrestling with his young child.

I think that deep down inside, we all know the difference between playing the game and being violent.

happysod
04-07-2003, 04:00 AM
Ward, as you asked direct, I've rejoined the thread (and yes I'm a lying weasel).

I saw no problem with the dilemma you posed regarding your hypothetical night-club assailant, avoidance is non-violence, interference (of whatever sort) I would term violent.

My opinion is that the techniques in aikido are violent, even if the philosophy isn't. If you apply these techniques, even with love and understanding, you're being violent. My why are you.." was a general query, not aimed at you specifically (just a bewildered cry in the wastelands).

I realise that my own viewpoint is rather less complicated and complete than many posting here, but I really can't make that leap that enables others to divorce actions and consequences from intent. For example, I firmly believe a surgeon will be violent with a patient. The surgeons intentions are beyond reproach (hopefully), but they will cause damage by their technique. In a similar way, when you surgically remove your opponent, you are using violence, again with the best intentions.

Violence itself to me is a tool, misused, it's wrong. Used properly, it can benefit both parties. I'll fully agree that the philosophy behind aikido attempts to lead people to a non-aggressive (loving? - can't quite go that far..) end-point. However, I don't think this detracts from the fact that aikido techniques are violent. If an activity/philosophy is violent in part, I have to vote for it being violent as a whole (like being a "little bit pregnant"?).

W^2
04-07-2003, 11:41 AM
As I stated in my first post, Aikido philosophy accepts conflict, and therefore violence, as a naturally occurring phenomenon. Following this precept to conclusion, I will assert that everything is inherently violent - conflict exists everywhere, at every scale. Animals have the drive to survive yet are programmed genetically with a finite lifecycle. Everything living or non-living receives its energy from something else, which in scientific jargon is known as the conservation of energy. So in essence something gives of itself for us to have life - physical life as we know it depends on the 'death' of some other thing.

Having said that, I will further assert that Aikido philosophy [and therefore technique] is about understanding the nature of conflict so we can redirect it to a mutually beneficial or synergistic resolution. In principle you can apply this many ways, of which one is the physical technique of martial arts. This is exactly what O' Sensei did; he was a Martial Artist who realized that what he had learned and become quite adept at, could be used positively instead of negatively. Remember, originally O' Sensei began training in the Martial Arts to 'avenge' his father, but his motivation changed over the intervening years. Thus we have Aikido, technically modified according to his personal philosophy to produce peace, if possible, instead of death. The Nash equilibrium comes to mind here...

In this light, Aikido [and all that it entails] stands in contraposition to the inherent violence of the world around us. It is the win/win philosophy in action, applied through the vehicle of the Martial Arts.

In conclusion, Aikido is inherently non-violent - any other conclusion would produce a paradox, and therefore inconsistency, into the concept of violence itself.

I hope that clarifies my first post.

~Ward

W^2
04-07-2003, 12:06 PM
...I will state again that Aikido is the principle of non-resistance, so if violence is directed at you, and you allow it to 'pass by', then you are simply allowing the violence of 'others' to run it's course, as if you weren't there at all.

~Ward

akiy
04-07-2003, 12:21 PM
...I will state again that Aikido is the principle of non-resistance, so if violence is directed at you, and you allow it to 'pass by', then you are simply allowing the violence of 'others' to run it's course, as if you weren't there at all.
Actually, if you weren't there at all, there'd probably be no violence to begin with. By stepping aside or whatnot, you've still made a conscious choice to affect what's going on...

-- Jun

paw
04-07-2003, 01:14 PM
Ward,
I will state again that Aikido is the principle of non-resistance

How do you reconcile the principle of "non-resistance" with atemi? Particularly in light of the often quoted aikido is <insert very high percentage here> atemi?

Regards,

Paul

W^2
04-07-2003, 01:45 PM
Hello Jun,

What you're suggesting is that without good there wouldn't be evil. Remember that the argument isn't whether violence exists, but rather, whether we meet it in kind or not.

Hello Paul,

Here's something I posted in another thread:

If you think broadly about Shioda Soke’s definition of Atemi - ”whenever you make contact with focused power [this is Atemi]” - then you could restate it as ‘intentionally directed energy at the point of contact’, and for the sake of simplicity I’ll limit the point of contact to the physical domain. Applying the broader definition to Aikido we find that all techniques are Atemi, and the seeming controversy over the application of Atemi in Aikido becomes an argument for which technique is appropriate for a given situation. Hence, which of the three ‘Atemi’ is appropriate should be rather straightforward given the specific circumstance, personal belief systems not withstanding. In this way we can see how Aikido is Atemi used in harmony with a situation, instead of viewing it on the surface as merely ‘striking’ or some other pugilistic connotation. Again, this is just an application limited to the physical side of techniques. I don’t mean to suggest here that Kiai and Aiki are one and the same, as they are obviously complimentary.

Actually, given the variable of ‘contact’, inductive logic yields an even broader definition – ‘ Intentionally affecting [the energy of] some other system ‘ - such as a training partner for instance. The notion of intention brings us back full circle to the difference between Aikido and ‘Striking’ Martial Arts, although I would say that many seek to achieve balance/harmony as well.

---End---

If Atemi does not produce harm, either intentionally or not, then it is non-violent. Does Atemi have to be harmful? No. It is the personal paradigms of violence that people seem to be having trouble reconciling with what I've posted. People seem to forget that someone adept at Aikido will lead and direct their attacker prior to the actual 'technique' - they dictate what the attacker can and cannot do. I have seen this in every Martial Art I've taken, albeit at a very high level. Nonetheless, If you don't practice Aikido this way, you aren't truly practicing Aikido - you're still growing. That may seem like a subtle distinction to some, but it isn't.

~Ward

Alfonso
04-07-2003, 01:53 PM
Actually, if you weren't there at all, there'd probably be no violence to begin with. By stepping aside or whatnot, you've still made a conscious choice to affect what's going on...

-- Jun
a pox on editing time..

Didn't O-Sensei step out of the way, to the effect that the swordsman smashed his shoulder against the wall, which led O-Sensei to reformulate his Aikido? I understood that he felt that stepping out of the way was not Aikido for the reasons above too..

This discussion on violence seems to revolve around Nage. I think it's perfectly possible for Nage to act without intent to do violence, and yet the results may be violent (as in violence of nature) by the fact that the attacker IS purporting to do violence. I believe that Aikido is about transcending even the intent to do violence of the attacker ..

Can you do technique with intent to harm ? Unquestionably yes, the possiblity is there! But is that AIKIDO technique you just did? I understand it isn't. What would you call it? Well, for lack of a term, some people will call it Jujutsu (which offends jujutsuka because it implies their art doesn't have ethics to it)..

Atemi in Aikido isn't done with the intent to harm and abuse or to destroy, no? It's done to cause the attacker to react in a way that will allow Nage to use a technique that will save their ass from being killed..

So there's violence in intent or purpose, violence in action , and violence in hindsight.

I believe Nage in Aikido cannot have the first , may still result in the second, and would probably feel bad at the third.

And what about UKE? How should attacks be made? Is Aikido Nage alone?

paw
04-07-2003, 02:29 PM
Ward,

My question was meant to be retorical. But since you answered....

I notice that you choose a definition of atemi that makes everything very nice and neat. I submit that most folks would say that atemi = striking. More specifically, a strike to a vital area. If memory serves, George Ledyard elaborated on this in a previous post (please correct me if I'm wrong). To summarize, it's a fight ending strike, meaning physical damage has been done. You could, of course argue that without ill intent, such an action is not violent .... Which I would reply, again, that accidentally or incidentally, your intention would not absolve you from any applicable laws.
If Atemi does not produce harm, either intentionally or not, then it is non-violent.

One definition of harm is "Physical or psychological injury or damage" If atemi does not have at least the possibility of physical injury, uke may ignore it completely, can they not? If atemi has the possibility of physical damage, has it not caused psychological damage?
People seem to forget that someone adept at Aikido will lead and direct their attacker prior to the actual 'technique' - they dictate what the attacker can and cannot do.

So if the attacker does something unexpected we may conclude the defender wasn't adept? I understand your point, and I've seen it as well, when there was either a) cooperative training or b) a very large differential in skill and experience. Barring either of those two conditions, on any given Sunday ....

I'm starting realize why there are so many lawyers in the United States.

Regards,

Paul

W^2
04-07-2003, 03:01 PM
Hello again Paul,

I see that instead of addressing a flaw in my posts you've chosen to redefine the argument to suit your paradigms - most people say this, this is most likely to happen, etc. Hey, if you don't agree - no sweat - but If I am in error then please point it out explicitly; show me where my posts go awry logically so that I may grow from it. Otherwise this is just a subjective matter of opinion, rather than an insightful discourse.

Cheers,

~Ward

W^2
04-07-2003, 03:06 PM
I practice Atemi all the time - psychological Atemi. The way I carry myself, the look in my eyes, etc., and so far no one has gone to counseling as a result - at least to my knowledge. In fact, in the very few times where violence has been threatened against me (including death threats), I've never had to run or resort to physical techniques. Maybe I'm just lucky...I'd rather be lucky than good.

~Ward

DGLinden
04-07-2003, 03:18 PM
Drew,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I do feel that when one trains to break arms, dislocate shoulders and fracture necks and backs - learn hundreds of ways to accomplish this - and actually practice doing it with live human beings, well, if it quacks like a duck...

NO - if you bump your wife and she dies in the fall I guess she was not a victim of violence. Unless you actually study how to bump her just so... Tell me... is an auto crash violent? Is a burning building violent? Are we just jerking around with semantics?

Violence appears to me to be doing anything that harms another person, I just don't care about your intent - it doesn't matter. If one was truly of a perfect aiki mind one would emulate those perfect Indian masters who would rather die than hurt another being.

I think I should stipulate here that I have no problem at all with violence. I hunt and fish and practice a martial art - I would be a hipocrite to deny it.

jimvance
04-07-2003, 03:30 PM
I think the "bad" kind of violence that we should be considering is an emotion. A person can feel when a thirst for blood and vengence wells up inside. It's not good, and in my opinion, its not right.I agree with you Mike in a way, and I absolutely loved your "two linebacker" story, I thought you offered a great analogy there. Not to sound sound semantically persnickity, but I would change the words "an emotion" in your quote above to the word "abuse". I have a hard time affecting my emotions (as I believe they are mostly chemical responses to conditioned stimuli), but I always have the option of letting them affect me. So I really have two long term goals: rewiring the conditioning that triggers certain emotional-chemical responses (my teacher calls this "desensitizing and then resensitizing") AND learning "non-attachment through awareness" (this is known in my dojo as "muga mushin", kinda sounds familiar).

J. Krishnamurti brings up the point in his writings that knowing and attention are not the same. I think he is trying to say what we call violence is a pattern we make up after the fact, and that any sort of arrangement of the facts-as-they-are interrupts the attention we may have on those facts. Krishnamurti's perspective echoes what is taught at my dojo and other religious communities, like Zen Buddhism.

I will state again that we live in a violent universe, but that how we allow ourselves to perceive (the bridge/filter between awareness and knowledge) violence dictates our interaction with it. Birth is violent but beautiful, the level of harm acceptable because the perceived benefits far outweigh the harm. A fatal gunshot wound is violent but abusive, the level of harm unacceptable because the perceived harm outweighs the benefits. How would we perceive childbirth if more than half of all mothers died during the process? How would we perceive a gunshot wound if it was an animal we were killing for safety or survival? (What if that animal was another human aiming a weapon at me? Enter the realm of the policeman and the soldier....)
And what about UKE? How should attacks be made? Is Aikido Nage alone?We are trained very systematically at the Jiyushinkan, and uke learns to attack in a very systematic way. I noticed through my own training that I went through (and continue to go through) several stages as an "attacker". The first was being uncomfortable, because we put our hands in the faces of our targets. Then there was over-exertion, because I didn't think it really worked, then there was over-cooperation, then aggression, then relaxation, and now it's honesty. I don't know how many more stages I will go through, and I don't care, they are all neat. Working up to the aggression stage required me to think up all sorts of wierd emotional stimuli in order to put my hand in someone's face and push them down in a way that is at once very effective and at the same time very gentle. I was releasing all sorts of pent up crap through this practice, and coupling that with the fear/adrenaline/release of ukemi makes for very life-changing stuff.

My perception of violence is led by my experience as uke; it is proven and tested during my experience as tori. These are not titles, they are simply relationships in the pattern of Aikido practice. My goal now is to be as effective as I can while doing as little harm as possible. I want that feel of "clean violence" that Mike illustrated in Howie Long.

Jim Vance

paw
04-07-2003, 05:08 PM
Ward,

I thought I was pointing out errors in your reasoning and explictly doing so.

I thought I argued that:

1. a) not everyone would agree with that definition of atemi b) atemi causes harm -- if not physically, then psychologically by forcing uke to react to the possibility of physical harm

2. I don't believe anyone has the ability to lead someone insofar as dictating what they can and cannot do on such a level as to virtually eliminate harm unless it is either cooperative training or they are far more skilled and experienced than their attacker.

We can agree to disagree if you feel that I'm reframing the argument. That's cool. No worries.

For the record, I find myself in agreement with Dan,
Violence appears to me to be doing anything that harms another person, I just don't care about your intent - it doesn't matter.

Unless posts are specific addressed to me, I'm done. Thanks all for a very thought provoking discussion.

Regards,

Paul

W^2
04-07-2003, 06:56 PM
Hello Paul,

1. A) It isn't a matter of whether people agree with my definition of Atemi, but whether it is inaccurate. If it is someone should prove it to be so.

B) Atemi doesn't have to cause harm and saying it always does simply isn't accurate. My personal examples of non-violent Atemi suffice for me - no ones gone to counseling yet, to my knowledge.

2. If you don't present any openings and someone attacks, are you not leading them into a strategically disadvantaged/weak position? This is a basic aspect of the Kihon Waza - it's why we learn the techniques in the Ma-ai that we do.

Anyhow, these are just my thoughts on the subject - like anyone else here.

~Ward

W^2
04-07-2003, 07:34 PM
A simple, effective, and non-harmful psychological Atemi - confusion.

A 6'4" Alaskan fisherman at a boat harbor once threatened to kill me. All I was doing was retrieving Pepsi from a vending machine, when around the corner came a mean drunk...he threatened me and reached back for a knife, I said fine - go right ahead and do it (kill me). Of course, I had the advantage the whole time; It was night, I had the light of the vending machine behind me, he had a twenty foot drop into the water behind him, I was sober, he wasn't. He reconsidered his first remark and told me to leave, I said no. He apologized and tried to explain his inebriated frustration [with the world], then went on his way. I don't think he even remembered the event to be honest. See my point?

~Ward

Kevin Leavitt
04-07-2003, 08:28 PM
remember: guns don't kill people, people do.

the weapon itself is not violent, it is the person using it.

The anger and rage the person uses is what takes a weapon, a fist, or a hand and makes it violent.

It is all in the intent of use.

In the dojo we can do atemi and use it in a non-violent, cooperative, learning way....couple it with anger and rage, then it becomes violent.

paw
04-07-2003, 09:59 PM
Ward,

1 b.
A 6'4" Alaskan fisherman at a boat harbor once threatened to kill me. All I was doing was retrieving Pepsi from a vending machine, when around the corner came a mean drunk...he threatened me

No physical attack was made, yet you felt threatened. Why? Psychologically, the fisherman attacked with atemi. If this was not so, why did you make any defense at all?

Consider further, hostile work environments. In most cases, no physical contact is made. Nevertheless, people bring forth charges and win. Why? They were afraid based on the social atmosphere .... psychological harm was done.

The psychological effect of violence on a community is yet another example. There is a large body of evidence of people who witnessed violence (it did not occur to them, they were not physically harmed) yet they suffer as though it happened to them. (Children whose parents were physically abused, but the children were not harmed).

These are examples of non-physical atemi (your definition) causing psychological harm.

2. Everyone has openings.

Kevin,

Why was a firearmed designed? To end life. Period. You can use it as a paperweight if you want, but it's purpose was to punch a hunk of lead through armor with enough force to kill whoever was in it.

I submit that such a tool is inherently violent. The fact that it could be used for the greater good isn't relevent, in my opinion. Now, apply the same reasoning to atemi (and note that you are using atemi differently than Ward's definition....) What conclusion do you draw? (retorical question)

Regards,

Paul

W^2
04-07-2003, 10:51 PM
...but it's still a horse.

Hello once again Paul,

He told me he was going to kill me, it doesn't get any more overt than that, and his attack didn't do any psychological harm to me either.

Speaking of hostile work environments...I work at a non-profit correctional facility here in Juneau. We run the local CRC (Community Residential Center) for the State of Alaska Dept of Corrections - otherwise known as a halfway house. I've seen and dealt with the full gamut of personalities here - murderers, sex offenders, etc., and I've never been threatened by an inmate, either directly or indirectly.

Once again, no one is saying that attacks aren't violent, but my response/atemi to this particular persons nonsense weren't violent - it ended peacefully for all.

Non-physical attacks in general do not equal the non-physical Atemi we practice in Aikido, this is a misunderstanding on your part.

The point isn't whether people have openings, but rather that Kihon Waza teach us leading as we learn them - it's a part of the technique.

~Ward

happysod
04-08-2003, 04:12 AM
Kevin, you quoted the

"remember: guns don't kill people, people do.

the weapon itself is not violent, it is the person using it."

Absolutely, totally agree. But, a frying pan isn't normally a weapon (except in the hands of a bad cook), but can still kill. So while a weapon itself is not violent, it's sole purpose is violence. In a similar way, any untrained person can peform violence, it's not exactly difficult to be violent after all. However, you've decided train in a martial art which is, philosophy aside, dedicated to efficient violence.

Ward, I agree, we're just not going to see eye-to-eye on this. I think I'm, going to have to leave you continuing in your spiritual growth while I continue to devolve - ho hum. Mind, you're still wrong! :)

mike lee
04-08-2003, 04:39 AM
I wonder what Dennis is doing right now.

paw
04-08-2003, 07:29 AM
Ward, I agree, we're just not going to see eye-to-eye on this. I think I'm, going to have to leave you continuing in your spiritual growth while I continue to devolve - ho hum.

Good advice.

bowing out,

Paul

Dennis Hooker
04-08-2003, 07:59 AM
WHAT! Dan, Linden Sensei, you old dog, you believe hunting and fishing is violent. Its gathering, harvesting, sustaining life. Some of the little beasties was meant to get shot in the head , it don't fit into my idea of violence. It may be a bit rough and a little uncouth to some folks but violent? Hell for the first few years of our marriage my wife, children and I (as you know Dan) mostly lived off what I killed. It was not an option it was a way of life for a class of people. I do not in least consider it violent. Perhaps my perspective on the question is unique and perhaps even wrong but to me violence follows intent. Now catch them in a steel trap and beat their heads in with a club while smiling now that is violence. I believe a volcano and a hurricane are awesome acts of the power of nature but not violent because there is no intent. Now I said earlier I believe an Aikidoka should harbor no intent to do violence. I do believe that is the highest goal. Am I there, of course not? You know me to well to believe I am not still on occasion a violent natured individual but damn I'm trying to get better. By the way let's go harvest some of god's creatures this weekend. Some folks are going to read this and see my civilized veneer striped off. But I opened the dace to get opinions, I did offer up arguments but evaluations of my perspective and I'll be damned if some peaceful folks didn't come back with violent intent string statements and bitch slapping words. I love it.

aikidoc
04-08-2003, 02:45 PM
The thread is interesting. I like the perspectives on atemi. As an interesting aside, Houston Smith in Religions of the World described Islam in much the manner of Mike's statement: ..."many paths can lead up to the same mountain peak." He went on to say that the path to enlightenment should be different for each person based on their perspective or personality. Given the violent nature of the islamic extremists like the Taliban, I find that an interesting description.

From a Buddhist perspective, I would change "love" to compassion-tonglen practice suggests you try to put yourself in the other person's perspective totally-thus the two becomes one. In such a case, love of the other might then become love of oneself-which might get into the issue of ego. Compassion on the other hand would not necessarily cause that trap.

Kevin Leavitt
04-08-2003, 07:33 PM
Good points about the frying pan or other things such as hands not being expressly designed as a weapon.

I guess my point was is that you cannot blame the weapon, only the person who uses it.

I can't really think of any good reason for guns to exsist other than to kill.

Yes, you can argue target practice and markmanship, and I would submit that in that case, you could use a gun in a non-violent way.

Then again, we use "weapons" in martial arts, bokken, tanto, etc.

Are not the designs of these things expressly for killing? and do we not use them in a non-violent way to train and cultivate ourselves to become better?

I believe it is possible to kill with compassion and in a non-violent way. An example would be a police officer that does so to protect another's life. Does this meet the definition of violence?

The more I think about it...the muddier things seem to get!

mike lee
04-10-2003, 02:35 AM
The Sun is the most violent entity in our solar system, yet we can't live without its energy. The trick is to not be consumed by its fire.

We have passions. The trick, it seems to me, is to not become lost in our passions and consumed by their flame.

Kelly Allen
04-10-2003, 05:24 AM
Is Aikido violent? No. Is Aikido Technique violent? Of course. Aikido is the study of violence so that we as practitioners can better understand violence in order to properly dissapate it.

Human beings are one of the few creatures that will kill NOT out of necessity. And when we kill unnecessarily it is always fueled by some type of emotion. Ego, Greed, Vanity, power etc. Aikido is the tool which we use to understand these emotions and to keep them in check. Whether the emotions belong to us or to someone else.

A gun is a peice of metal. It has no emotion thus it cannot do violence. The designer of the gun may have had violence in mind or not (was it an AK 47 or a 3006 hunting rifle) either way it has to be used to harm to be violent.

aikidoc
04-10-2003, 09:49 AM
The issue does get muddy.

Kelly, I would disagree that Aikido is the study of violence. I would reframe it thus: Aikido is the study of harmony in the face of violence or violent intent. Yes, Aikido techniques are potentially violent. However, in my mind the violent execution of Aikido technique makes them non Aiki and I question whether as such they should be considered Aikido techniques. I think it gets down to choice and intent. The ability within the context of the art to do the aiki thing and not perpetuate the violent intent but rather to defuse it and render it non-violent. I think this even goes beyond what one of my students called "least harm possible". Can we defuse the violence without harm at all? That, by the way, does not mean pain-to me pain is a signal that harm might follow.

Although an injurious outcome can result from any encounter with violence or violent intent, it would seem we should train ourselves mentally and physically to avoid becoming part of the violent energy and instead blend with it and redirect it to a more positive energy-harmony. As pointed out by Mike-not to get lost in the flames of passion, i.e., stay out of the negative energy.

This issue is one of my struggles with atemi. I believe it is an essential part of the art, but I do not believe the bone breaking, tissue damaging or health affecting aspects fit the Aikido paradigm. Yet, I have never been in a life and death encounter and really don't know how I would react against such devastating violent intent.

My 2 cents.

aikidoc
04-10-2003, 09:53 AM
By the way, I think humans are one of the few creatures that also kill for no reason at all or because of the pleasure they derive from it. Most other species kill for defense, survival, or territory. Rarely, do they kill for no apparent reason.

opherdonchin
04-10-2003, 10:04 AM
People say that, John, but I'm not sure it really makes sense. A well fed cat will still kill mice. In fact, animals seem to rarely apply the notion of 'reason' to their motivations. If they kill, it is because something inside them drives them to that, and that something can have any number of complex physiological driving mechanisms. Humans are no different from other animals in this.

I think it's hard to compare humans to other animals because our perspective on humans is so familiar and intimate and our perspective on other animals is so fundamentally divorced from their inner lives. It's a lot like noticing that I'm different from everyone else in the world because I'm the only one whose thoughts are audible.

aikidoc
04-10-2003, 10:09 AM
"I believe it is possible to kill with compassion and in a non-violent way. An example would be a police officer that does so to protect another's life. Does this meet the definition of violence?" Kevin Leavitt

This does get tricky doesn't it? Compassion for the attacker or the people affected? I'm not sure how killing can be non-violent in any form. Even lethal injection to me is a violent act. The death touch by gradually shutting down organ systems over time, if you believe in it, is a violent act. This gets into the whole issue of harmony-does killing the attacker result in the best possible outcome? Or, is it better to simply restrain and contain the violent energy? We do that a lot with our prisons. We lock it up and put it out of our mind so as to not have to deal with it.

The police officer may be removing a violent threat from the situation-but to me the act of doing so, if it involves killing, is violent. That old Kwai Chang Caine/David Carradine comment something like this: to take another's life does no one honor. From a Buddhist perspective, this would fall into the issue of the karmic implications of the act.

aikidoc
04-10-2003, 10:16 AM
Opher-good points. We are all driven to aggression by the same areas of the brain. Stimulation of the ventromedial hypothalmic nuclei can cause rage and aggression. I know it's tough to compare humans and animals since we do not really know if they think-especially given the experiments with apes and sign language. I guess my point was more that humans are capable of killing for pleasure. Some of our basic instincts are basically the same as the animals. Genetics I'm sure plays a role in the mouse killing by the cat on a full stomach.

Paul Schweer
04-10-2003, 06:51 PM
All was stillness and desolation, each corpse
in its usual place... war had turned the
water babies into little ghouls that danced
around the dead... but you must struggle,
and will carry the memories all your life.
-- E. B. Sledge

I don't know much about violence and fear. I've prepared and practiced, studied, trained for killing -- "commitment to violence" is what the man said, talking to us about hand-to-hand -- but no more than that. Never seen the elephant.

I've been afraid and I've been hurt... but not much. Been nowhere near my breaking point, and can't say I know just where that might be. Don't want to know.

It's tempting to say that fear and violence have no power over us beyond their potential for preventing appropriate action. Feelings pass, even blinding terror and pain, and don't exist beyond ourselves. What we do remains. Our actions have real effect on others, consequences rippling through generations.

But fear and violence can change someone. If that someone is one I love, and if the change means my someone comes home, then a good change it is. But they are changed. Nearer dead.

I believe Aikido can help resurrect one's deadened humanity. It is my duty to train in a manner facilitating your struggle with whatever demons you happen to bring. (I expect you'll lose the struggle. I sometimes suspect you're not even struggling.) In helping you, my fears fade.

Respect for our art's deadly potential does not require its exploration. There is violence enough too easily found. There is fear enough in us.

I asked my teacher if Aikido hurts.

"No, of course not. Doesn't hurt at all. But when you screw it up," he said, "it hurts like hell."

That's what I'm afraid of.

Paul Schweer

opherdonchin
04-11-2003, 10:22 AM
"I believe it is possible to kill with compassion and in a non-violent way. An example would be a police officer that does so to protect another's life. Does this meet the definition of violence?" Kevin Leavitt

This does get tricky doesn't it? Compassion for the attacker or the people affected?I agree with you, John, that Kevin's example is not exactly what I'd call killing with compassion. I'd agree, with Kevin, though, that such a thing can exist. I've seen plenty of compassion in people who decided they needed to put their dog down. I think that there is real danger in legalizing euthanasia, but I also think there are many examples where the overwhelming emotion is, in fact, compassion.

This doesn't lessen the issue of karmic consequences. It just complicates it.

happysod
04-11-2003, 11:22 AM
Hold up lads, this is getting silly... Witches were burned at the stake with compasion for their souls, the Inquisition had nothing but compassion for the "possessed" when torturing them - all compasionate and in most cases these people were true believers, but I'd put this down as violent.

Ok, I agree you all can hold sweetness, love and compassion for me while eviscerating my mortal remains, but damned if you're going to get me to agree you're not commiting violence - did anyone ask the dog whether the lethal injection was violent?

Off-topic: Not to say I wouldn't kill the mutt myself, I believe in quality of life, not quantity

jxa127
04-11-2003, 12:28 PM
Drew,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I do feel that when one trains to break arms, dislocate shoulders and fracture necks and backs - learn hundreds of ways to accomplish this - and actually practice doing it with live human beings, well, if it quacks like a duck...
Daniel, I missed this response until today. Thanks for your comments.

I'm not sure how I feel about the statement above. I've always been taught that while we can break arms, and dislocate joints, it's a better idea not to as that leads to broken or dislocated connections.
---snip---

Are we just jerking around with semantics?
Most likely. :D
Violence appears to me to be doing anything that harms another person, I just don't care about your intent - it doesn't matter. If one was truly of a perfect aiki mind one would emulate those perfect Indian masters who would rather die than hurt another being.
Maybe it's a bit of both intention and harm. I believe there can be harm without violence (due to lack of intent), and violence without harm (because of intent). I disagree that a "perfect aiki mind" would be totally pacifist. I understand aiki to mean joining with energy (or intention). I don't think aiki implies non-action -- just the opposite in fact.
I think I should stipulate here that I have no problem at all with violence. I hunt and fish and practice a martial art - I would be a hypocrite to deny it.
And I would be a hypocrite if I didn't say that I recognize how aikido can be violent. I just believe that our highest aim is non-violence and peaceful resolution of a conflict with no harm to either party. I also believe that this can include physical technique.

Regards,

-Drew

mike lee
04-12-2003, 01:59 AM
When I catch a fish, I thank God for providing me with a meal. When I gut it, I apologize to the fish for taking its life. When I eat the fish, I thank it for giving its life so that I might live.

Uncle Dennis — can we go fishing sometime?

George S. Ledyard
04-12-2003, 11:39 AM
The Aikidoka should never harbor intent to do violence on another person. That is not to say the resulting interaction between an Aikido advocate and an aggressor will not result in some short sever repercussions to the aggressor. However it is the content of the Aikido persons mind and heart that determine if that repercussion was an act of violence. Not the outcome of the act its self. This could be said of any martial art I think.

Dennis Hooker

www.shindai.com
The were three Aikidoka, all quite senior, in an alley. They were accosted by two individuals who started an argument. One of them sucker punched one of the Aikidoka, the other made directly for a second (the third Aikido chose not to get involved). The second Aikidoka went into a low kamae, and when the assailant approached, let off with one single atemi which broke the fellows jaw and ended the fight. By this time the original Aikidoka who had been sucker punched was strangling the first assailant with his tie in order to keep him from helping his friend.

What I would like to know, Dennis, is whether you consider the single strike which broke the jaw to be a violent act? Certainly the senior practitioner was aware of the probable consequences of such a blow. It would be very hard to maintain that he didn't have the "intention" to hurt this fellow. Legally, claiming lack of intention would not hold up in court. The action of the strike to the jaw has a high likelihood of causing a certain level of physical dysfunction when executed by a trained martial artist. It would be the use of that defensive technique and not what the defender claimed his "intention" was that would determine the parameters under which decisions would be made about his liability for the Use of Force.

I would maintain that Aikido when used for self defense in a situation in which there is serious intent to injure or kill on the part of the attacker, will often, if not always, have a violent result. This result will come about, not by accident, but the by the use of techniques which are inherently dangerous. The Aikidoka might try to minimize the damage done to the attacker, he might take the attacker's well being in to account in his actions, but against an attack by someone who is technically proficient there will be injury, period. Is that violent?

It is untrue to say that the attacker "hurt himself" and that the defender was being non-violent. Legally it won't work as a justification. But also morally it leaves the responsibility of the acts to someone else. That isn't good ethics. If I am a competent practitioner and I am involved in a serious defensive situation I would use whatever techniques I deemed appropriate to the situation. If it were a stupid drunk, I would use lower level force techniques, if it was a multiple attacker situation the first person I touch isn't getting up again any time soon, if there is a weapon involved I will almost certainly break or dislocate some joints or bones, probably take out the eyes, and unless they are totally incompetent and I feel I can ease up, I won't stop until they are unconscious. If I am properly trained, none of this will happen by itself, none of it will be accidental. If I know what I am doing these acts will be intentional. If I break an arm without intending to either I am not competent or they had some predisposition to be injured.

I maintain that non-violence is in your heart. You do everything you can to avoid a conflict. When the conflict is over you let it go and harbor no ill feelings. During the conflict you do whatever is deemed necessary in your own mind to resolve that conflict. If the attacker is seriously violent then the actions you take will almost certainly be violent and intentionally so.

I think that any act of violence (including War) is something to be regretted. If I had to dismantle someone in order to protect myself or another I would take no pleasure in it. I am heartsick listening to all of the talking heads and politicians joyfully carping about how we have won the War in Iraq. We have done horrible things to thousands of people, many of them innocent people we were there to help. We may have had to do this (another discussion), the innocent lives lost on both sides may have been the cost of something better and greater in the future. But it is absolutely immoral to attempt to distance ourselves from these actions. It is the same in individual combat. If I did it I intended to do it, it didn't happen because of the attacker. I should be able to justify what I chose to do by outlining the threat that I perceived. That is the way in which the legal system functions. If I hurt someone I will regret having to do it. I would probably be angry at the attacker(s) for forcing me to do it. But whatever I did was my own action. If it had violent results it was because I intended it to have violent results.

jimvance
04-12-2003, 04:31 PM
Perhaps my perspective on the question is unique and perhaps even wrong but to me violence follows intent. Now catch them in a steel trap and beat their heads in with a club while smiling now that is violence. I believe a volcano and a hurricane are awesome acts of the power of nature but not violent because there is no intent.

I still think there should be a clearer definition of the views of violence. Most of what is being talked about here takes place in the arena of violence, but could be classified as "harmful intent" or "antisocial behavior" rather than just simply as "violence". We live in a violent universe, some times beautifully so. We attach extra emotional concepts to the word "violence" that I don't believe really should be there, much in the same way we talk about the word "aggressive". Both of these words have negative connotations, implying some form of abuse or overuse of force, but I think they have gotten a bum rap. The terms start to contradict each other when we talk about a tornado not being violent because it has no intent. How do we know that it doesn't have intent? Tell the victims of tornados that it has no intent and that it is not violent. I believe that what the tornado doesn't have is a human emotion attached to its inherently violent action. The difference between a rifle aimed by a hunter and a rifle aimed by a soldier is the emotional intent we give to it; how we perceive it does not change the nature of the weapon---used in its designed purpose, it is a violent tool. Some of the best times of my life have been the most "violent", just without the negative view of being harmful (or at least balancing the harm with some perceived benefit).
I maintain that non-violence is in your heart. You do everything you can to avoid a conflict. When the conflict is over you let it go and harbor no ill feelings. During the conflict you do whatever is deemed necessary in your own mind to resolve that conflict. If the attacker is seriously violent then the actions you take will almost certainly be violent and intentionally so.If we begin to talk about non-violence, we really begin to see the separation between the two ideals, violence as intent and violence as universal force. It is only possible in a purely static environment for "non-violence" as an ideal to exist; I believe what we call "non-violence" is really just having non-harmful intent. Using the concept of non-violence has been one of the most effective weapons of political leaders in the last century. But I don't think that has "stopped the violence"; the Chinese takeover of Tibet in the 1950s was violent---there really was no "non-violence". What the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people in general showed was that they were not going to respond with harmful intent, but they still allowed the violence to occur, hence my meaning of "no non-violence".

We must become comfortable with our universe, its violent nature, and the nature of violence within each one of us. An old koan I heard (and will presently butcher, methinks) goes something like this:

Q. Where do you find the exits when the house is on fire?

A. Sit down and strike a match.

We cannot escape this, we can only become aware of it. I apologize if I insist on being knitpicky, and I am not attempting to take two notable teachers to task here. The real question I would ask is "why do we insist on looking at words like violence and aggression as something we should avoid?" Help me.

Jim Vance

Dennis Hooker
04-12-2003, 06:29 PM
George, I am well aware of the incident of which you speak. I have myself been involved in very serious actions. To be frank there is no time for thought. One acts out of survival and ones training and instinct take over. Was the act of which you speak violent? It was certainly injurious and the premeditated attack was planed violence. I believe violence is hostility, fighting, brutality, cruelty, sadism, and carnage among other things and I believe these things have no place in Aikido or in an Aikidoka’s mind. The response I believe was instinctive self defense. I hope for the Aikidokas sake they harbor and harbored none of these things in the minds.

George S. Ledyard
04-12-2003, 10:23 PM
George, I am well aware of the incident of which you speak. I have myself been involved in very serious actions. To be frank there is no time for thought. One acts out of survival and ones training and instinct take over. Was the act of which you speak violent? It was certainly injurious and the premeditated attack was planed violence. I believe violence is hostility, fighting, brutality, cruelty, sadism, and carnage among other things and I believe these things have no place in Aikido or in an Aikidoka’s mind. The response I believe was instinctive self defense. I hope for the Aikidokas sake they harbor and harbored none of these things in the minds.
Ok. I figured you knew what I was talking about. I guess I believe that violence is that which is destructive. It can be natural violence, which destroy but creates space for the new. It can be emotional which does real damage that may not heal in a single lifetime. It certainly can be physical as noted above. I viewd the incident as violent but mot unjustified. The persopns in volved may not be aware that they were in fact lucky.

I had a friend in college who grew up in Chicago. He was Black and got attacked by two white guys from his school simply because of that fact. He was struck from behind with a mallet. He was a karate and jiu jutsu student since the age of twelve. He turned and dropped the first assailant with a side kick that put him out of it. The second attacker then backed off. My friend then helped the disabled attacker to his feet and invited the two of them to go for a beer as he was genuinely interested to hear why they thought they should attack him. That's my idea of non-violence. He had no intent to injure beyond what was necessary, had no desire to humiliate the attackers, and took the first opportunity to try to heal the conflict. That is Budo in action in my opinion.

bogglefreak20
04-14-2003, 03:31 AM
In my opinion an Aikidoka should never atempt to cause injury on another person. Aikido techniques are dangerous, therefore should be used only in self-defense and even then with caution and self-control (with peace of mind) in order not to hurt your "opponent".

When training in Aikido I consider those that attack not as Aikidoka for that particular moment. And when I attack, I'm not an Aikidoka for the time being. I'm just providing my partner with the necessary impulse for him/her to try and defens him-/herself with an Aikido technique.

That is also why there are no attack technique in Aikido (at least the "version" im training in). Doing e.g. shomen-uchi for me means DEFENDING from a hand/blade/whatever trying to chop you up rather than trying to chop up someone.

I read once a statement of O Sensei, who claimed that even when you perform an Aikido technique you should be careful not to hurt the person who attacked you. I belive that says it all.

Finding the border-line between doing a successful technique and hurting your partner is what Aikido is all about (for me, at least).

With Respect,

Miha

opherdonchin
04-15-2003, 12:04 AM
I have a little problem with those ideas, Miha, since it seems I've always been taught (and come to believe) that uke is as important a part of Aikido as nage is, and that good Aikido leads to good uke as well as good nage.

What I'd say, instead, is that if I'm ever attacked, I hope to draw from my attacker whatever Aikidoka he/she has inside. In my head, it is the same as I try to treat beginners on the mat as though they are Aikidoka, and to find the Aikido within them. It is by learning how to draw connection from people who aren't looking to create connection that I really make Aikido 'effective.'

Jeff R.
05-01-2003, 07:19 AM
:confused:I've seen "run-away" show up many times in several posts. In Aikido, running away isn't suggested or implied unless facing a life threatening situation from which the only recourse is to escape. There is a large difference between running away and avoiding a situation; recall Marubashi.

As well, remember that violence is fueled by intent. When someone attacks you, it is impossible for you to be attacked personally. They are not attacking you, because you don't exist. If you take an attack personally, then you are biased and personally invested in the attack. If you exist, if there is an awareness of the self, then you cannot be part of the attacker's spirit.
The attack is just a motion, just an action in time and space, and when you dismiss self, your action is simply the response, the purest movement to counterbalance the attack. There is no anger, no life or death, no here and now, only the Universe within and around you that embraces the initial movement and resolves the issue.

The attacker should have an option. If you extend your fist, and the attacker decides to run into it, then it is his suicide. If he chooses to stop the attack, then there is no more action. If you FORCE the attacker to do anything, then you are imposing your own energy and bias upon the situation. If you are purely void of self, then the attacker will do it all on his own.

So, yes. If the attacker runs into a wall and breaks his hand, it is his own fault. But our purpose in all purity is to resolve the situation so that NOBODY is injured. Pain is useful; damage is bad.