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Orange
06-27-2000, 08:36 PM
I have been practicing Aikido for a little over a year and have just started to wonder about the claims that Aikido is "non-violent".

The majority of the techniques I have seen end in either a projection or a pin, and I can see how those can be considered non-violent. At the same time there are some techniques such as chokes, that don't seem to follow the same mentality of protecting uke.

And then the fact that techniques can be performed in such a way that they can seriously injure uke only makes me ask the question more.

So is aikido non-violent or is aikido something that can be non-violent but isn't necessarily so?

akiy
06-27-2000, 10:24 PM
I remember my first aikido teacher saying, "The techniques of aikido are all capable of great damage -- even to the point of killing the attacker. It's the person doing the aikido that makes it non-lethal." I liked that.

I'm sure other people have thoughts on this subject, though. Anyone else?

-- Jun

Chuck Clark
06-27-2000, 11:39 PM
I think "violence" is in the kokoro or mind/heart/spirit/intent of the person not the technique.

As a tornado is not violent, but powerful and possibly destructive in our eyes, budo waza is not violent unless accompanied by violent intent, hatred, malevolent energy from the person who performs the technique.

I took part in almost three years of combat in Viet Nam and only felt violence in myself on three occassions and I'll never forget that feeling. I really believe that we can be compassionate and still do what is necessary to carry out self-defense even in wartime.

I believe the nature of budo is compassionate even though some times we must use strong measures to achieve peace.

Aiki1
06-28-2000, 09:14 AM
Just out of curiosity, what style of Aikido do you take that teaches chokes? Some styles do teach them, some don't. Just wondering.

Chuck Clark
06-28-2000, 09:57 AM
Mr. Novick,

We practice shimewaza in the Jiyushinkai. It's one of the infinite possibilities that spring out of some of our kihon no kata. Shimewaza done softly and adeptly can be a very quick way to "protect" uke.

Regards,

Orange
06-28-2000, 10:03 AM
I don't know what the style is called but my instructor's main influence has been Chiba Sensei.

Nick
06-28-2000, 11:13 AM
Suenaka-ha Tetsugaku-ho Aikido does shime-waza.

I believe that Aikido is all in the heart and mind of the Aikidoka. It goes to the discussion of Katsujinken, Satsujinto- Aikido can be used as the Sword to give Life and protect the weak (Katsujinken) as it was meant to, by O-sensei, or it can be used to break someone's back by provoking a fight and than giving them an iriminage on some nice pavement, and using it to hurt the weak (Satsujinto). However, I also believe that Aikido is harder to make work while holding the Satsujinto, than say, karate. The times I have gone to Aikido with stray thoughts on my mind, I become angry and try to use strength, making my technique suffer. This, I believe, is why O-sensei taught Aikido in the way he did. As long as the Aikidoka remembers that Aikido is about The Loving protection of All Things, we shouldn't be too worried...

Sorry for rambling,

-Nick

janet
06-28-2000, 04:40 PM
It took a year of strikes and grabs to wonder about it, huh? ;-)

As Chuck pointed out, intent is a major factor here. I think the problem is to some degree semantic: What do we mean by "violent"? Aikido IS a martial art; when de-escalation and simple evasion are not enough, it involves direct physical action. I would probably say that in this context, by "violent" we mean "aggressive." That aikido is primarily used for defense, though at times proactively, not as a tool to bully or oppress.
Does that help?

Orange
06-28-2000, 08:03 PM
It is rather interesting that it took me about a year to start wondering about this :)

I had studied Kempo for a while and was trying to figure out why I lost interest in that but have managed to be much more dedicated to Aikido. At first I thought it was that Aikido is not a pummel-you-oppenent-until-he-can-no-longer-fight style of martial art, while the Kempo had "Death Techniques". But after doing a few choke techniques, it struck me that Aikido can be just as deadly, it does have a different mentality applied to it though. As a few posts here have pointed out, Aikido favors the life giving sword.

Chuck Clark
06-28-2000, 10:53 PM
Be assured that ALL aiki techniques have many "sharp edges" within the principles of the technique.

One of the things I love about aikido is that a well-trained budoka has a choice about the level of lethal force. Of course, many aggressors in self-defence situations injure themselves.

My advice is that if you're in danger, protect yourself to the best of your ability and worry about the rest later. Of course, the more skilled you become, the more responsibility you have for "restraint" and control. My goal is to always "do as little harm as possible."

Guest5678
06-30-2000, 02:04 PM
janet wrote:
It took a year of strikes and grabs to wonder about it, huh? ;-)

As Chuck pointed out, intent is a major factor here. I think the problem is to some degree semantic: What do we mean by "violent"? Aikido IS a martial art; when de-escalation and simple evasion are not enough, it involves direct physical action. I would probably say that in this context, by "violent" we mean "aggressive." That aikido is primarily used for defense, though at times proactively, not as a tool to bully or oppress.
Does that help?

========================================================
Janet,

I agree with most of your post however, I would ask you, is Aikido a martial art? or is Aikido a martial way? Personally, I believe it started out as an art that was martial in nature, but as with most living things, through time and a lifelong refinement by it's discoverer (O'sensei), it evolved into what it is today. I also believe this process of evolution has led to the different "styles" we see today. People took home that which it was at that time.

Violence has it's place in Aikido as well as in all martial arts and ways, for If there were no violence, there would be little need to practice. Although violence is not intended, to someone watching you do ikkyo to someone that doesn't know how to take ukemi will appear very violent indeed. I believe it's really a matter of perception.

Just my two pennies in the pot.

Dan

Nick
06-30-2000, 06:41 PM
Aikido, as O-sensei taught it, is about protection of all things, yourself and the attacker. That does not mean there can be no pain involved, for as O-sensei said- "Even pain is a manifestation of love." For instance- there is a video of O-sensei performing shihonage on a police officer on the roof of a building. However, the cop almost spins out of it! My instructor (Roy Suenaka) suggests in his Book Aikido Kyohan (plug plug) that O-sensei could have wiped him out, but they were on a roof, with no mat, doing a technique on a civilian with little to no falling experience. As Suenaka sensei says: "It's not bad technique, it's the loving protection of all things..."

Something to think about,

-Nick

Tiggr
07-01-2000, 10:49 AM
Being somewhat "new" to the Aiki arts, I probably have a (slightly) different perspective.... :)

First, I found an Aikijutsu dojo after over twenty years of various other martial arts (Goju Ryu Karate, Lima Lama Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, Q'uin Tao Kung Fu, Military Sabre, teaching unarmed/knife/bayonet/rifle Close Quarters Combat in special operations units) as well as martial "ways" (Judo, etc.)

Second, the reason I have been exceedingly happy with Icho Ryu Aikijutsu is that it keeps firmly in touch with its martial roots while extending my skills so that I don't HAVE to hurt others unnecessarily.

My point? The techniques of Aiki contain devastating (and potentially lethal) elements. The "way" (philosophy) of Aiki disciplines us to avoid unnecessary conflict and to use an appropriate level of violence only to protect others and ourselves.

I am glad that the Aiki arts has room for all of us.

Nick
07-01-2000, 12:05 PM
Aikido gives us a choice to control our opponent. As O-sensei said, quoting a samurai motto:

"Cause pain before you injure. Injure before you maim. Maim before you kill. And if you must kill, make it a clean kill. Squeeze every drop of life from the opponent."

Something new to think about,

-Nick

AikiTom
07-02-2000, 09:46 PM
O-sensie really said that "clean kill" stuff? I would doubt it.
Anyway, my two cents, (which summarizes much of the above) is this:
Aikido is not non-violent, as much as it non-agressive.
Aikido is separated from many martial arts because it (ethically and practically) allows for a proportionate response, that is one in direct proportion to the intensity of the attack.
I think that using chokes (carefully) in practice has two values: 1) you need to experience it before it actually happens so you can know the feeling you'll have while using aikido to get out of it, and 2) knowing how to do a choke may be the ethically kindest thing, particularly if multiple attackers are present, and a quick, non-lethal response is called for.

Mike Collins
07-02-2000, 10:15 PM
I once had a real life situation in which an intoxicated person invaded my home. In order to put a stop to the situation, pain had no effect, structure (taking his balance ond thereby rendering his structure useless to him) had only the effect of moving this person around. The only way to end the altercation without injuring him (more than I already had, trying to get a reaction with pain), I had to put him to sleep with a choke, and wait for the police. It was non violent because my intent was his protection, as well as the protection of my family.

AikiTom
07-02-2000, 10:34 PM
Bravo!

Nick
07-03-2000, 08:30 AM
that was a good thing to do. The only other way he could have been subdued with a baseball bat or bokken (take your pick), and when he did go down, he might not have gotten back.

Another example that while Aikido is an effective martial art, it does not have to be violent.

Kanpai,

-Nick

TOMAC
11-22-2011, 11:41 AM
This is a very interesting thread. My first thought is that it is helpful to look at "Aikido" and "Aikido Technique" as separate concepts. Aikido is the way to achieve harmony of spirit. We are all familiar with this basic translation of the name of our art. Technique is a part of the art but does not encompass the art in it's entirety. Since the techniques that we employ in our training are ancient and not unique to Aikido, they are potentially lethal and by construction "violent."

Harmony, by definition, is not all peace and love. In order for there to be harmony there must be discord. Harmony in (western) music operates on the singular principle of the resolution of a dissonant interval to a consonant (or less dissonant) interval.

Our art teaches us to resolve conflict. In the unfortunate circumstance of a violent physical attack our hope is that the principles that we have learned and internalized in the dojo will serve to help us protect ourselves and nullify the attack. If our attacker is injured in the process it is unfortunate. In any event we would not seek to harm or punish our attacker. By this standard my opinion is that Aikido is non-violent.

SeiserL
11-22-2011, 01:20 PM
I remember my first aikido teacher saying, "The techniques of aikido are all capable of great damage -- even to the point of killing the attacker. It's the person doing the aikido that makes it non-lethal." I liked that.
DITTO

Styles are not violent or non-violent.

People's intent and applications can be.

Shadowfax
11-22-2011, 03:22 PM
Expect the old thread police to be along shortly. But this is a good subject and a thread I had not come across before.

Aikido is neither violent nor is non-violent. Aikido just is. It is the person using it, and their intent, that is violent or non violent. Or at least that's how I perceive it.

phitruong
11-22-2011, 03:29 PM
you pay folks to regularly slam you into the ground. i'd say that's pretty violent. actually, it's pretty disturbing behavior, borderline masochism and/or sadism. either way, we are a bunch of sick buggers. :)

matty_mojo911
11-22-2011, 04:14 PM
Aikido involves extreme trust - think about it, it is one of the few martial arts where perhaps 100's of times a class you "offer" a limb - I.e. you grab their wrist, sleeve, collar, stick your arm out etc...etc..then your partner throws or pins you.

I've always found it a slightly odd concept that we give a person a gift, our hand/arm, and they slam us for it. Never really considered that a really harmonius concept - yes, yes I know it all depends on the flow between the two persons, looking after our partner that sort of thing.

I would say that those persons who are rough with our gift are violent - and there are plenty of them out there.

Ps - choking someone out/rendering someone unconcious in my country is considered a "Grevious Bodily Harm" charge. I do BJJ and have choked out plenty of people and been choked out many times but you have to remember it is a technique that can very easily kill if carried a bit far - unlike a wrist lock, arm bar etc..self defense is always proportianate to the immediate threat against you - so it depends on the circumstances as to whether it is acceptable to do.

Kevin Leavitt
11-22-2011, 04:40 PM
Expect the old thread police to be along shortly. But this is a good subject and a thread I had not come across before.I

Aikido is neither violent nor is non-violent. Aikido just is. It is the person using it, and their intent, that is violent or non violent. Or at least that's how I perceive it.

I agree with this too!

lbb
11-22-2011, 05:04 PM
I don't think that aikido is non-violent for the same reason that I don't think it's a spiritual practice. There is more to being non-violent (or spiritual) than just saying you are, or reciting a few platitudes. It takes practice and action and skill and thought, and as far as I can see, neither one of those is systematically taught to aikido sensei...so why would you expect to learn such things in an aikido dojo? My sensei are great people, who have probably reflected more deeply on the subject of violence than the average person...but if I really wanted to study non-violence, I would go instead to one of our newer members who has made a life's practice of non-violence and mediation. Aikido and non-violence, or aikido and spiritual practice, aren't mutually exclusive...but they're not mutually INclusive either.

Belt_Up
11-22-2011, 05:10 PM
Ps - choking someone out/rendering someone unconcious in my country is considered a "Grevious Bodily Harm" charge.

I'd like to know which country that is, and under which law?

Janet Rosen
11-22-2011, 05:35 PM
Expect the old thread police to be along shortly. .

Nah, it's not really a specific person's problem per se, just a good topic!

graham christian
11-22-2011, 06:34 PM
I don't see how Aikido can be violent. It's the perfect non-violent martial art.

In my view those using violence within it are not doing what I call Aikido.

Regards.G.

graham christian
11-22-2011, 07:04 PM
An interesting point here, how are your techniques? I can safely say that all of mine are non-violent, I thought that was what Aikido was about.

Regards.G.

Michael Hackett
11-22-2011, 08:58 PM
A carotid sleeper hold, commonly known as a choke hold, can be considered a felonious assault here in California in some circumstances. The bar arm choke which affects the trachea moreso.

Aikironin21
11-22-2011, 11:53 PM
My first Sensei, said Aikido is violent, just less aggressive than other styles. Our definition of what is violent, is relative to our individual experiences. Where as an Aikidoka's aim is not to harm uke, it is still taking part in a violent situation where someone is trying to harm you. In the dojo, it is non-violent, due to the compliant partner practice. If you are required to use Aikido techniques in the real world, trust me, it is a violent situation.

Now the aggression comes from the attacker, but the scenario as whole in which Aikido becomes a part of is violent. The peace doesn't come till the end after Aikido has been applied.

Kevin Leavitt
11-23-2011, 03:00 AM
I'm a vegetarian. I don't believe in killing animals. However, it still doesn't change the fact that I am a human, homo sapien, that is still a carnivore.

It is not about if Aikido is violent or non-violent. Aikido is a martial art, based on martial princples. By it's DNA alone it deals with violence.

However, most who practice Aikido have adopted the philosophy of non-violence and practice it in such a way as to work towards a process of minimal force and reconciliation of violence in less violent ways.

That though is an individual choice and does not change the fact that at it's root aikido deals with violence. No different than me being a vegetarian makes me less of a carnivore.

philipsmith
11-23-2011, 03:26 AM
i agree with all of the posters who say that the intent is the important thing.

Chiba Sensei once quoted O Sensei as saying "True compassion is being able to kill but choosing not to kill".

Aikido is not IMHO a pacifist, theoretical pursuit. It is a strong effective and deadly fighting system. However it is also an ethical framework to allow us to temper strength with compassion.
Fortunately most Aikidoka follow this ethical principle.

Kevin Leavitt
11-23-2011, 05:26 AM
I wouldn't call it a deadly fighting system from my perspective. The capacity and potential is there. Deadly fighitng systems are trained a whole nother way from my experiences.

That does not mean that the ability, capacity, or potential is not there, but certainly it is not the focus or goal.

SeiserL
11-23-2011, 05:50 AM
It is not about if Aikido is violent or non-violent. Aikido is a martial art, based on martial princples. By it's DNA alone it deals with violence.
Yes agreed.

It asks the question, do we have to be violent to deal with violence?

Well, do we?

SeiserL
11-23-2011, 05:52 AM
Chiba Sensei once quoted O Sensei as saying "True compassion is being able to kill but choosing not to kill".
Yes agreed.

The choice is compassion or incompetence?

Thoughts?

gates
11-23-2011, 07:09 AM
It asks the question, do we have to be violent to deal with violence?

To stop violence with violence, you have used violence so you haven't exactly 'dealt' with it, (in its totality).

Is self defence just another label for justified fighting?

genin
11-23-2011, 07:32 AM
You need to see the forest for the trees.

Violence is the trees. Non-violence is the forest. Aikido is the space between the trees.

Kevin Leavitt
11-23-2011, 07:49 AM
Yes agreed.

It asks the question, do we have to be violent to deal with violence?

Well, do we?

Well I think it depends on the definition of "Deal with". I think we must understand the causes and nature of violence in order to deal with it.

We can deal with it in many ways. Prevention and deterrence are two ways. I think it is best to deal with it on a strategic level instead when possible. We still must deal with it. We certainly can't ignore it.

Chris Li
11-23-2011, 08:26 AM
Yes agreed.

It asks the question, do we have to be violent to deal with violence?

Well, do we?

It also asks the question - what exactly is "violence"? If you shoot someone to prevent them from shooting somebody else, is that violence?

We should remember here, as well, that Kisshomaru Ueshiba stated explicitly that his father was not a pacifist.

Best,

Chris

TOMAC
11-23-2011, 08:28 AM
Yes agreed.

It asks the question, do we have to be violent to deal with violence?

Well, do we?

If we deal with violent attack in a violent fashion the answer is yes. If, however, we accept the violent attack and protect ourselves using Aiki principles we hopefully avoid violence. I think it is important to realize that a violent confrontation, even if it is not of our own making, can damage us spiritually if we respond by meeting violence with greater violence. As students of Aikido we carry a responsibility to resolve conflict, even violent conflict, without bringing harm (physical harm or emotional harm) to our attacker. This is a heavy burden. Beating our attacker into submission may be effective but in the long run we are diminished by this process. Aikido provides us with the tools to avoid this outcome.

DH
11-23-2011, 08:33 AM
An interesting point here, how are your techniques? I can safely say that all of mine are non-violent, I thought that was what Aikido was about.

Regards.G.
If you raise your hand to a person to cause them to fall down, if you do something to use "their force against them"..... you have committed an act of violence. Any wavering or excuse is just kidding yourself. It is an act of violence...in degrees.
The only real option for a passive person, is to stand and let them hit you-even kill you- and take any thing of yours that they wish. That takes tremendous bravery and an indomitable conviction of will. That's why true passiveness is beyond the capabilities of most people.
Interestingly, the term passive/ agressive as a mental state or attitude, can be tied into the type of lack of resolve exhibited in dealing wih people in a forthright and clear manner that is played out on Mats everywhere...in all kinds of arts. This includes MMA gyms where guys will get people in locks and crank AFTER they have tapped someone out and AFTER everyone agreed it was a casual roll. People carry their damage everywhere they go.

If you are practicing aikido you are committing violence. Get over it. Otherwise take off the martial outfit (from a culture not your own) and put down the wooden weapons...you don't belong. If you put on the funny outfit (hey, I wear them too) and pick up a weapon, be resolved at what you are doing.

I would agree with Kevin; you avoid and reduce, you prepare and de-escalate, and when you can, give a measured response. Sometimes the best response is total domination to stop the violence- with violence- to restore the peace.

Overall, I think it is important to have these issues thoroughly resolved in your own mind so that you are mentally prepared. Nothing is as calming or as definitive as being the one person in the room who is aware, prepared, and ready to act in an instant. I would offer that many times it is palpable (not always) to others.
Happy thanksgiving
Dan

Demetrio Cereijo
11-23-2011, 08:39 AM
I have been repeating over and over again that he who cannot protect himself or his nearest and dearest or their honour by nonviolently facing death may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor. He who can do neither of the two is a burden. He has no business to be the head of a family. He must either hide himself, or must rest content to live for ever in helplessness and be prepared to crawl like a worm at the bidding of a bully.
M.G.

ryback
11-23-2011, 08:54 AM
Be assured that ALL aiki techniques have many "sharp edges" within the principles of the technique.

One of the things I love about aikido is that a well-trained budoka has a choice about the level of lethal force. Of course, many aggressors in self-defence situations injure themselves.

My advice is that if you're in danger, protect yourself to the best of your ability and worry about the rest later. Of course, the more skilled you become, the more responsibility you have for "restraint" and control. My goal is to always "do as little harm as possible."

I entered the thread with the intention of posting my thoughts but i realised that Chuck's opinion covered me.Aikido is a non-resisting martial art,but martial art nevertheless,so it has indeed many sharp edges within its principles.It's non violent since you blend becoming one with the attacker,but it also offers extreme solutions for extreme situations,where is the aggressiveness of the attacker himself that actually causes him damage or injury while the aikido technique is applied...

Kevin Leavitt
11-23-2011, 09:09 AM
Dan wrote:

Overall, I think it is important to have these issues thoroughly resolved in your own mind so that you are mentally prepared. Nothing is as calming or as definitive as being the one person in the room who is aware, prepared, and ready to act in an instant. I would offer that many times it is palpable (not always) to others.


And thus is the purpose of Budo. I think this is the bottomline of all we can really do in the end. The outcome, you cannot predict, but it really doesn't matter as long as you did what you did without emotion, excess, and you do it for the right reasons.

I think it is dangerous going into any situations with a so-called "ethical Aiki way" that dictates a right and wrong way to do things and states that you failed if you did not peacefully resolve things. I think in many cases this process is out of our hands and we must allow ourselves to be free of such notions.

We do what we can do to prepare to have a clear mind and be prepared to do what we can do...outside of that we have to be willing to go the distance if need be.

Marc Abrams
11-23-2011, 09:38 AM
Dan wrote:

And thus is the purpose of Budo. I think this is the bottomline of all we can really do in the end. The outcome, you cannot predict, but it really doesn't matter as long as you did what you did without emotion, excess, and you do it for the right reasons.

I think it is dangerous going into any situations with a so-called "ethical Aiki way" that dictates a right and wrong way to do things and states that you failed if you did not peacefully resolve things. I think in many cases this process is out of our hands and we must allow ourselves to be free of such notions.

We do what we can do to prepare to have a clear mind and be prepared to do what we can do...outside of that we have to be willing to go the distance if need be.

Kevin:

Hope Germany is treating you well. Your position is entirely realistic. It is so easy to wax and wane poetically about issues regarding peace, violence, non-violence.... particularly from the comforts of a safe place without imminent danger. Our training is to be in the moment with a clear mind, prepared to do what we need to do to come home to our loved ones. We don't go into these situations with violence in our hearts or intent. Preserving peace and our ability to live within that realm can sometimes entail doing what is necessary in that moment. Walking into a conflict with some preconceived notion of our philosophical intents is not being in the moment, which can easily lead to bad outcomes.

Happy Thanksgiving, and I look forward to visiting you in the spring.

Marc Abrams

Kevin Leavitt
11-23-2011, 11:44 AM
Thank Marc! Look forward to your visit! Yes, in the moment, with an unfettered mind!