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jss
04-03-2005, 05:28 AM
Does anyone have a source for the widely accepted idea that ideally the use of aikido should leave the attacker unharmed? ( I know it says so in 'Aikido & the Dynamic Sphere', but where did they get it from?)
Or is aikido about not causing any serious harm? And how would O-Sensei define that, no 'serious' harm? And would he assume that an attacker knows how to take ukemi?

An what would be the relation with the idea of harmony in aikido? And what did O-Sensei mean when he used the word 'harmony'? A new-age hippie kind of harmony, a taoistic yin-yang type of harmony or something else?

And what's the relation with the non-agressive nature of aikido? Is it the same as the no-(serious-)harm idea or does it rather mean you do not need agression to break a person's wrist with aikido? Did O-Sensei ever actually say that aikido is non-agressive or is that what people have inferred from his remarks about harmony, love and so forth?

Any thoughts or insights on all or some of these questions would be greatly appreciatied.

Tim Griffiths
04-03-2005, 09:03 AM
That's a good few years' worth of questions right there, so I'll just pick up on a couple of points:

'Aiki' can be difficult to translate, and like 'harmony' can mean a wide range of things. As the name and a principle of a martial art, it was intended to mean something more than just commonplace 'blending'. Its almost deliberately vague, though. The point of it being an untranslatable term is just that - there isn't an exact translation.
I once asked a Japanese friend what it meant. After a bit of though, she said that when she and her brother were fighting as children, their grandmother would say and tell them they needed more aiki.
That'll do for me - harmony, understanding, compassion and an ability to come to a mutual understanding. Its a physical and philisophical principle. As far as O'sensei mean to use it, although I never asked him, since he refers to Aikido as a Way to Heal the World, I doubt he meant a Way to Heal the World by Breaking Wrists Easily.

In general, aikido should provide a way to do any amount of damage to an attacker - from lethal damage to no damage at all using the same technique. Kotegeishi can kill, if you flip someone on their head onto concrete, and it can certainly take someone to the ground without causing any damage at all. Shihonage and iriminage are also good examples.
Its personally one of my favourite things about aikido - that you don't have to damage an attacker. If attacked by, say, an autistic teenager, how would a Tae Kwon Do or Arnis practicioner handle it? I'd suggest the result would be much better (especially for the person you really don't want to hurt) using aikido.

Train well,

Tim

senshincenter
04-03-2005, 10:38 AM
Yes, this is a good question. Can anyone cite Osensei saying anything on the notions of not-harming an opponent and/or (especially) the notion of "minimal damage." The latter one is what gets me - since I find it hard to equate an economic position with a moral position. Can anyone cite something said by Osensei in regards to the notion of "minimal damage" or "minimal injury"????

dmv

ruthmc
04-03-2005, 10:50 AM
I've heard someone say that Aikido teaches you how not to get into a fight, and I would very much like an explaination of this.
Awareness :) , confidence in your ability to handle a conflict situation without resorting to violence, knowledge of how to move physically and verbally to a win-win situation, compassion, understanding...

Off the top of me head :D

Ruth

Jake Karlins
04-03-2005, 11:36 AM
I think the idea of causing as little harm to an attacker as possible is great. At the same time, I think this probably gets very tricky in real-life situations where you're getting attacked by one or more persons who really want to hurt you. I think this is an issue of ukemi- even if you can execute technique well/not lose your cool, what are the chances the attacker will know how to receive a technique?
A lot of times when I train with newbies, they get confused as to how to get taken down by a technique (and that's gotta be half my own fault, I'm pretty new to Aikido, but not just my fault :) ). Shihonage, for example- if uke doesn't know how to receive it smoothly, there's the possibility of dislocation, or getting thrown down really hard, or both. Good to keep in mind that throws are not in themselves more "harmonious" or peaceful than strikes. A hard throw even onto mats can be jarring. Imagine a hard throw onto concrete, broken glass, down some stairs, etc. I'm not saying that it's impossible to use Aikido for self-defense with a minimum of harm to the attacker(s), just that it is probably really tricky, a lot trickier than dealing with a more or less cooperative uke on the mat. The interesting thing there, I think, is that you might be presented with the choice of either getting out of the way (using footwork to evade), or try for some serious technique, probably with atemi. It might be more in line with the idea of not hurting the attacker to just walk away. Of course, that's not always possible (and it's a whole different story if someone else is being threatened).
I know this doesn't address the question of where the minimal harm idea came from, but it's something that came to me last summer, and I thought it was at least partially relevant.

RonRagusa
04-03-2005, 12:31 PM
Yes, this is a good question. Can anyone cite Osensei saying anything on the notions of not-harming an opponent and/or (especially) the notion of "minimal damage." The latter one is what gets me - since I find it hard to equate an economic position with a moral position. Can anyone cite something said by Osensei in regards to the notion of "minimal damage" or "minimal injury"????

dmv

"To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control agression without inficting injury is the Art of Peace" - O-Sensei, "The Art of Peace" by John Stevens.

jss
04-03-2005, 01:37 PM
confidence in your ability to handle a conflict situation without resorting to violence
Does a physical aikido technique count as violence?

knowledge of how to move physically and verbally to a win-win situation, compassion, understanding...

Is aikido in this respect so much different from other martial arts, sprts, hobbies, ...? Or do we just emphasize it more in aikido?
This question is especially important to me since there are too many stories about high ranking aikidokas misbehaving. Or should I cynically conclude that the positive effects of aikido balance the negative effects of gaining power in an organization?

Ruth[/QUOTE]

jss
04-03-2005, 01:52 PM
"To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control agression without inficting injury is the Art of Peace" - O-Sensei, "The Art of Peace" by John Stevens.

Does someone have this in Japanese to check the translation?
I mean, what would o-sensei consider an injury?
My dictionary (Oxford Advanced Learner's) says: "physical harm to a living being", with "harm": damage, injury. Let me put it this way: is something that will heal an injury?

jss
04-03-2005, 01:54 PM
Just a thought:
if we want to control an attacker without injuring him/her, we need to master timing. We need to be able to respond after the attacker has committed himself mentally to attack, but before he is physically able to do so.

jss
04-03-2005, 02:02 PM
The interesting thing there, I think, is that you might be presented with the choice of either getting out of the way (using footwork to evade), or try for some serious technique, probably with atemi. It might be more in line with the idea of not hurting the attacker to just walk away.

In my opinion running away is surrender. It's a good solution in real life, but I would not consider it as an example of mastery of aikido.
If you meant walking away as one way of not pushing back when being pushed, that would be aikido. For me that's one of the most beautiful aspects of aikido: throughout the attack the attacker has the idea he will be able to sucesfully land the attack, but at the moment it shoud land, the aikidoka is no longer there and he/she redirects the energy of the attack. (And the question of this thread: redirects to what/where?)

If aikido is the way of harmony you will need to do something to restore the harmony. Evading untill the attacker is tired is one way of doing it, although a bit risky.

AikiSean!
04-03-2005, 02:28 PM
After reading "Aikido Shugyo", I think, and this is just my little theory, its the intent you have in your heart the moment of the technique. Gozo Shioda tells several stories about in challenges(non lethal), and more specifically with shiohnage, elbows snap. But from the context of the story, I do not feel that he had those intentions in his heart.

senshincenter
04-03-2005, 02:37 PM
"To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control agression without inficting injury is the Art of Peace" - O-Sensei, "The Art of Peace" by John Stevens.


Leaving aside the issue of translation, I am not sure this supports the economic position (or suggestion) of minimal damage as a moral position held by the Founder. In fact, one could say that it would actually discredit it - since all injury to our opponent is injury to ourselves. Reason, it would seem, dictates that we should seek rather not to injure ourselves at all - right?

Moreover, to be sure, Osensei's unification of the Same and the Other is coming from the philosophies he practiced – philosophies wherein the subject/object dichotomy was reconciled. These philosophies, I would suggest, cannot act as the “glue” needed to connect an economic statement with a moral position. Economic statements seem to find their support in the “common sense” that comes to us at first glance. A reconciliation of the subject and object comes to us at any place other than the first glance. For example, we might want to say that it is better to break someone’s arm than it is to kill them; better to choke them out than to break their arm; better to pin them in some type of a lock than to choke them out; etc. At an economic level, this makes sense to us; it is a type of “common sense.” However, economy aside, one is at most seeking the lesser of two evils; one is still dealing with a violation of oneself here. As such, no matter how economical one gets in one’s practice, one is still practicing a type of action that first injures our opponent and thus us, and that second denies the Oneness of my being with the being of my opponent.

Anyway, this is a long about way of suggesting that maybe another quote is in order if we want to see if this notion of “minimal damage” can really be attributed to the Founder, his art, his view of Creation, and/of the meaning of Life, etc.

Jake Karlins
04-03-2005, 02:47 PM
I wouldn't consider walking, or even running away surrender necessarily. Of course, we're talking in kind of general terms here, and situations are always more complicated and surprising than we imagine. ;) Still- if it's just me, getting pushed around, or having a punch thrown at me, I think just escaping is a valid option. It seems like trying to do technique could become a surrender in itself: to trying to win in a conflict, or trying to prove courage, or whatever. Not that the idea of running away from a fight doesn't bother me a little, it does, I'd probably feel like I lost if I ran. But I think that feeling of having lost is probably not so good, and counter to the idea of not inflicting damage.
I'd like to hear from people who have ended up being faced with the decision to use technique or walk away... I think one possible problem with this discussion is that you probably don't have much time to think things out when you're being confronted violently.

Ki No Nagare
04-03-2005, 03:59 PM
Aikido is an art because you can perform every technique without causing pain. Doing techniques and hurting someone is easy.

Every aggressor must see that it's useless to attack you. And if they still attack you, show it to them.

But in some situations......I would say: who doesn't want to listen, must feel :cool:

senshincenter
04-03-2005, 04:49 PM
To see if we can side-track this thread off of the usual twists and turns, please allow me some room to suggest that many of these "common" understandings of Aikido's relationship to moral behavior seem to be very immature in their thinking. I do not wish to discount anyone thinker as "immature," but it is hard not to upon hearing such views immediately ask, "Have you even thought ten minutes about such and such an understanding?"

Human history is filled with men and women who were in possession of a great mind and/or a great spirit, and even they had to dedicate their whole life time to discover the heart of moral behavior. It seems a bit "bold" to approach such a topic without an equal investment of time and effort (i.e. one that is not even close to ten minutes of reflection). Some of these views, in my opinion, can only exist precisely because they are held without any real time or effort to see them through (or see through them) - to see if they are accurate, or valid, or even true. Some more time and effort, even just a little, I feel, would go a long way toward preventing this thread from getting off topic (i.e. the thread talked about citing sources) and/or from landing in the quagmire of undocumented personal accounts that attempt to wrongly bridge the gap between the subjective and the objective.

David Humm
04-03-2005, 06:23 PM
...And at what point does a student forget the martial aspect of the discipline because they are overly concerned with a philosophy of the founder who, took many years to formalise into what we generally accept is aikido per se ?

I am far less concerned with the moral or philosophical aspects of the art and more interested in effective application, IMHO once I am fully capable of making effective technique (in a martial sense) I am then equipped to exercise choice over how that application is used - simplistically, "to harm or not as the case may be"

Having worked for several years in high security prison facilities (catA) I am well versed in the dynamics of physical conflict, although there were times when negotiation proved successful, those times were generally always with individuals who were less likely to engage in fisticuffs, the individuals more likely to fight were rarely talked down (indeed they expected you to try and would attempted to use this to their advantage)

Attempting a peaceful solution with an individual influenced by drugs, alcohol or indeed deep depression is often unsuccessful, indeed these people don't feel normal levels of pain (induced to attempt compliance) or, they may be capable of 'inhuman' amounts of strength. In these circumstances, practicality is the only philosophy.

Kind regards

Dave

senshincenter
04-03-2005, 07:09 PM
Since it's looking a bit difficult to cite some Osensei quotes, how about references to a teacher? Is the economic view of minimal damage something your teacher teaches - did their teacher teach it (i.e. has your teacher said that his/her teacher taught this)? I have never heard this position taught by my teachers in Aikido. This I say not to discredit anyone but only to answer my own question: "No, my teachers didn't." Did yours? Did theirs? Trying to track this view down - that's all. How about folks from other arts, did you hear of such a view in other arts, etc.? It isn't in the other arts of my study.

I know it's part of the modern view of warfare, but in that arena its economics are its own justification - not its morality.

Rather than just saying whether we agree with it or not, or whether we think this about it or that about it - etc. - can anyone start lending some real traces to the source of this position? I'm interested in the history of this position in relation to the history of Aikido.

Much appreciation,
dmv

RonRagusa
04-03-2005, 07:43 PM
I remember when I was with Maruyama Sensei that he always stressed that technique should be effective but that going out of one's way to injure an adversary was wrong. I teach my students the doctrine of least possible harm. It is my view that if walking away from a situation will avoid conflict then that is the correct technique to employ. If immobilizing an opponent will end the conflict then there is no point in injuring him. Of course least possible harm can escalate to killing an opponent if the situation warrants. It is our responsibility as practitioners of Aikido to determine the correct response to a given situation. Gravely injuring or killing a person when a lesser response is adequate to defuse the conflict and then blaming it on an 'instinctive reaction' is unacceptable. Why else are we training if not to learn to react to stress calmly centered?

As students and teachers of Aikido we are called to adopt to a high standard of conduct both in daily life and in a conflict. Yamada Shihan puts it this way in Aikido Complete:

"Uyeshiba discovered the spiritual potential of the martial arts. He believed that the basic principles of the universe are harmony and love and that these can be attained through the martial arts. He believed that a doctrine which does not teach these principles is not a true martial art." and,

"The main purpose of Aikido is to build a strong mind, body and spirit for use in daily life. In addition, however, Aikido also trains its students to live in harmony with themselves and with one another."

senshincenter
04-03-2005, 08:14 PM
Ron,

May I ask: Do you equate what Maruyama said with the concept of minimal damage? Is going out of one's way the same thing as not complying with the concept of minimal damage? Is minimal damage about not going out of one's way? Also - did Maruyama say that he got this from Osensei, Tohei, other teachers, his senpai, etc.?

thanks,
david

RonRagusa
04-03-2005, 08:44 PM
Ron,

May I ask: Do you equate what Maruyama said with the concept of minimal damage? Is going out of one's way the same thing as not complying with the concept of minimal damage? Is minimal damage about not going out of one's way? Also - did Maruyama say that he got this from Osensei, Tohei, other teachers, his senpai, etc.?

thanks,
david

David,

Understand that 'going out of ones way' is my phrase, not Sensei's. I don't remember his exact phrasing, but I have formed my views based on his teachings over the 25 years I was his student. His views on self defense (which is what we're talking about here) were, and again I'm paraphrasing, were to do what needed doing to protect yourself and no more. My interpretation of this is least possible harm.

Sensei rarely quoted anyone and I don't remember him saying that he got this idea from either O-Sensei or Tohei Sensei.

Ron

senshincenter
04-03-2005, 08:53 PM
Ron,

thanks very much for the reply.

david

Paul
04-03-2005, 09:37 PM
One can quote the bible for the devil or the lord,, forgive my blatant paraphrasing of Shakespeare but i think it is pertinent. This holds true for O'sensei too. We could quote and counter quote all night. There are quotations that tell us to strike the enemy down and there are quotes telling us to save our partner and to love the world. Are we wrong to dismiss one and follow the other. Which one do we dismiss? The one on striking and attacking because it doesn't follow with our belief system or the one on love because we are seeking a practical martial experience?
I don't know. From my point of view I don't really care for O'sensei's quotes or philosophies. In my mind they are not really very original and one can find similar idea's in the works of Tesshu, Musashi, Yagyu, Bokuden, Innei, Sun tzu, and I am sure everyones parents, the list goes on.
Why is it that aikidoka examine it so closely?

A lot of people within this thread have proposed the idea that aikido is the mental awareness to walk away and to avoid a violent incident. This is very laudable and I agree it is aikido. My only concern is that the beginning of any violent encounter is the so called adrenaline dump. This gives us a number of positive and negative side effects. On the positive side it makes us stronger, faster and dulls our perception of pain. The negative side is not so good for us aikidoka, it shuts down our higher brain functions, which is why monosyllabic sentences from an aggressive person is a good indicator that he is about to attack.
The adrenaline dump also impairs our ability to perform fine motor functions. We lose our peripheral vision and our personal space increases massively.

What has this to do with aikido?

This is my argument, we need to use reasoning to assess the situation and walk away. However our higher brain functions are now impaired and we have lost the ability to see the bigger picture because our peripheral vision has been lost in order to allow us to fully concentrate on the threat to our front.
If we do manage to overcome the above we still have to deal with an individual who is unable to think clearly and perceives us to be in his personal space and therefore a threat. To overcome this we need to move him or ourselves from this space. 30ft is a good rule of thumb.
It is very difficult to achieve all of the above. Once the above symptoms have occurred in someone you perceive as a threat in my opinion it is going to go violent.
I do think it is possible to win by avoiding conflict, Sun Tzu's highest form of warfare/conflict, but only by recognising the threat very early on and for those of us without 100% zanshin this is not always possible.

My position is the same as Maruyama sensei's. We should not enter into a conflict with the idea of injuring. I take this to mean finishing it as quickly as possible. Geoff Thompson makes an interesting comment that any fight that goes beyond 3 seconds is fifty-fifty regardless of skill.

When someone attacks me they must realise that the possibility of injury exists as much for them as for my self and being the nice bloke that I am I will do my best not to damage him too much but I cannot guarantee anything.
He has made the mistake of attacking me before i have attained O'sensei's mastery.

Rupert Atkinson
04-03-2005, 11:48 PM
Sun Zu said the best victory is won without fighting.

But, something tells me that he who wins without fighting likely has lots of experience in fighting to fall back upon should his adversary not accept his enlightend vision.

Michael Cardwell
04-04-2005, 02:52 AM
Yes, this is a good question. Can anyone cite Osensei saying anything on the notions of not-harming an opponent and/or (especially) the notion of "minimal damage." The latter one is what gets me - since I find it hard to equate an economic position with a moral position. Can anyone cite something said by Osensei in regards to the notion of "minimal damage" or "minimal injury"????

dmv

In Invincible Warrior, by John Stevens there is a story about this. Supposedly someone once ask O-sensei if he had any great disappointments in life. One of the things that he said was a failure on his part was an injury that he caused. He was teaching at a police training seminar when one of the students started to strongly resist a wrist technique that O-sensei was applying to him, and so his wrist was injured. O-sensei said that while this may have taught him a lesson in the old way of thinking, that it was not his way, and he resolved after that to refine his technique so that no one would ever get hurt.

I may have gotten some of that story wrong, it's been awhile since I've read that book, but I believe that was the gist of the story. Anyway you can look it up yourself. :D

ruthmc
04-04-2005, 04:02 AM
Does a physical aikido technique count as violence?
Nope - as long as it's executed in the way of Aikido :)

Is aikido in this respect so much different from other martial arts, sprts, hobbies, ...?
Again no. There are many ways to learn how to be centered, calm under stress etc.

Or do we just emphasize it more in aikido??
Some do, some don't - it depends upon your sensei, and to some extent your own personal choice.

This question is especially important to me since there are too many stories about high ranking aikidokas misbehaving. Or should I cynically conclude that the positive effects of aikido balance the negative effects of gaining power in an organization??
People are people, and sometimes they misbehave. Agreeed that they "should know better", but regrettably some of them don't. A degree of cynicism is healthy ;)

Ruth

Paul
04-04-2005, 05:25 AM
How can we say that an aikido technique doesn't count as violence as long as it is executed in the way of aikido?
I am sure the recipient of your technique with a fractured limb and a few bruises would disagree with you.

Besides why does violence carry such a negative connotation? Actions can be violent with Mal intent. Combat of any kind is always going to be violent. We cannot escape this fact.
The first time a beginner see Tobi ukemi they are often shocked by the violence of aikido. Are they wrong to think aikido is violent? I don't think so, I think we as students have become immune to this fact.

ruthmc
04-04-2005, 06:55 AM
How can we say that an aikido technique doesn't count as violence as long as it is executed in the way of aikido?
I am sure the recipient of your technique with a fractured limb and a few bruises would disagree with you.
If I executed my technique without intent to cause harm, using my skills and abilities to deal with an unprovoked attack outside the dojo (where the attacker intended me harm), then any damage that occurred to the attacker as a consequence would be as a result of his own violence, not my Aikido.

Besides why does violence carry such a negative connotation?
Because violence means to do intentional harm. You can't be accidentally violent! At some level you have given yourself permission to deliberately attempt to inflict harm upon another human being if you choose to be violent.

The first time a beginner see Tobi ukemi they are often shocked by the violence of aikido. Are they wrong to think aikido is violent? I don't think so, I think we as students have become immune to this fact.
As a beginner I never saw Aikido as violent. Impressive, physical, sometimes hard, and very mysterious, yes. :) A beginner would indeed be wrong to think Aikido is violent, unless what they witnessed was an act of violence carried out in the name of Aikido, which regrettably does happen sometimes. :(

Perhaps I am fortunate that I could tell the difference between hard Aikido and violent technique from near the beginning of my training. Perhaps I'm just a good observer of human beings. :D

It's all in the intention, this hard vs violent training, empowered by self-control. :cool:

Ruth

JamesDavid
04-04-2005, 07:27 AM
david, i hope this is considered enough for you!!!! well its a good rant anyway..........

I will give a perspective of someone who came to aikido largely attracted conceptually. You should note that I am quite new to the art. To me the kind of conflict one is likely to encounter is dominance behavior. One needs to consider the motivation behind an attack, not just the specifics of the attack……nothing is ever that simple……an aikidoka has tremendous potential to display physical superiority to an adversary. However, the cause of an attack is never based on physicality, if someone has "something to prove" or feels that they need to physically assault you, no doubt there are issues behind that. My point is that by merely defeating someone physically we do not resolve the conflict. By not hurting your adversary in a physical confrontation you make the physicality a mute point. Effectively you say "we cant hurt each other". This is how I interpret harmony. If you hurt them you say "I can hurt you, can you do worse?"…..it makes the physicality the issue. Naturally to illustrate your superiority to your attacker may involve breaking their arm, the issue is grey, the difference here is that you are putting the responsibility of the action ( harm) back upon the attacker. ie I only hurt you because you made me….. i am not sure if this is possible with a striking art…but perhaps…it would take more maturity from the uke that is certain…so my point is that harming and intent to harm are two different things and the way this is perceived by uke is the difference between harmony and continued conflict.

all akidoka know that they could put their training partner in hospital many times each training session….but we never (almost) do….we learn to control power as a routine…I have no doubt that years of training this way has a deep psychological effect… consider boxing for an alternative, where you spar and really think about hurting the opponent…this I hope is where aikido can find me harmony…violence is the intent to harm, if you know how to defend yourself and you don't you are issuing violence on yourself,, and your family…..and the next poor sod who will become a victim …..….

Keith_k
04-04-2005, 07:49 AM
If I executed my technique without intent to cause harm, using my skills and abilities to deal with an unprovoked attack outside the dojo (where the attacker intended me harm), then any damage that occurred to the attacker as a consequence would be as a result of his own violence, not my Aikido.


Because violence means to do intentional harm. You can't be accidentally violent! At some level you have given yourself permission to deliberately attempt to inflict harm upon another human being if you choose to be violent.
I'm sorry but your staments seem to be contradictory. To say that the injury from your technique was the attacker's fault is akin to mining my fron lawn, and when one of my mines blows someone to bits saying "It wasn't MY fault, he was trespassing..." If you know a particular technique is capable of causing injury, and you intentionally use this technique, did you not intentionally put your attacker in a state potentially harmful? How is this not violence?

ruthmc
04-04-2005, 09:12 AM
I'm sorry but your staments seem to be contradictory. To say that the injury from your technique was the attacker's fault is akin to mining my fron lawn, and when one of my mines blows someone to bits saying "It wasn't MY fault, he was trespassing..." If you know a particular technique is capable of causing injury, and you intentionally use this technique, did you not intentionally put your attacker in a state potentially harmful? How is this not violence?
My Aikido is not violent, therefore, any injury sustained by the attacker would be due to him hurting himself. I would not break a limb by any direct action of my own, but if my attacker took a swing at me, missed, and fell on concrete breaking his own arm, that would be down to him.

I wouldn't stop a punch with my face just so my attacker could avoid falling over and hurting himself. :)

I hope this clarifies,

Ruth

Paul
04-04-2005, 10:27 AM
Because violence means to do intentional harm. You can't be accidentally violent! At some level you have given yourself permission to deliberately attempt to inflict harm upon another human being if you choose to be violent.

Ruth

Is a tornado violent? Is a storm? the question of intent is only mentioned in around half of the dictionary's I looked in. Can't an action be regarded as violent with out Mal intent? One must violently strike the mat to dissipate the force when performing Tobi ukemi does that make the action wrong?

Secondly you perform a technique that results in dropping another person on the floor or manipulating a joint in an un-natural direction but you have no responsibility for the outcome of such an action? you said that you wouldn't break a limb by any direct action of your own. Don't you at least acknowledge the possibility that any of the katame waza has the possibility of injury? And if so then do you acknowledge that by merely applying them you create a situation were you through the application of such a technique would damage someone. How exactly does a person injure himself?

My final point is to James. I have been lucky enough to have boxed at competition level and from my experience I never had the intention of causing harm. It sounds strange but there it is. How often have you watched a boxing match and the two boxers hug at the end? I think this occurs because of the absence of malice. There was violence but no malice a contradiction to many I am sure.

jss
04-04-2005, 11:30 AM
The idea that the intent behind an action has an effect on the morality of that action is as far as I know an idea that originated from Roman Law and was adopted by Christianity. Hence, we give lighter punishment to those who show remorse.
So I have serious doubt that for O-Sensei the intent whith which you break an arm would make any difference. You broke an arm. Period. If that was without the intention to do so, you need to train harder to improve the control you have over your technique.

jss
04-04-2005, 11:36 AM
In Invincible Warrior, by John Stevens there is a story about this. Supposedly someone once ask O-sensei if he had any great disappointments in life. One of the things that he said was a failure on his part was an injury that he caused. He was teaching at a police training seminar when one of the students started to strongly resist a wrist technique that O-sensei was applying to him, and so his wrist was injured. O-sensei said that while this may have taught him a lesson in the old way of thinking, that it was not his way, and he resolved after that to refine his technique so that no one would ever get hurt,

But O-Sensei is clearly talking about teaching here, not about real life application.
Perhaps O-Sensei' thinking was more in line of what Alain Peyrache says: aikido should be perfectly safe to practice and when you need effective technique, you can use the principles learned in aikido training and add the things that make a technique efficient (full atemi, joint breaks and so forth). And he has shown how to break a neck, so by efficient he is talking about the full range of effectiveness.

jss
04-04-2005, 11:40 AM
People are people, and sometimes they misbehave. Agreeed that they "should know better", but regrettably some of them don't. A degree of cynicism is healthy ;)

You answered all my questions, but not the whole post, so let me rephrase:
if aikido is so big on the peace, love and understanding, how come we have so little to show for it? How come O-Sensei had so little to show for it (considering his temper among other things)?
Of course, religion doesn't do that much better in that respect, so perhaps cynicism IS the answer. (Or smaller words that sell less good. Damn, that was cynicism too...)

JAHsattva
04-04-2005, 01:22 PM
basically, the attacker gets the same amount of "harm" as he/she invests into it.

the harder they come, the harder they fall.

aiki is just letting the attacker deal with his own stregnth.

having aiki is to remain a neutral factor in the situation.

its obvious the attacker wants to inflict harm.

so, aikidoka make it obvious he/she isn't going to fight.

i consider it an act of compassion to be able to damage an opponent, and not do it,while essentially showing the attackers that they are really attacking themselves. (literally and figuretivly).

jester
04-04-2005, 02:22 PM
"To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control agression without inficting injury is the Art of Peace"

That sounds more like Master Kahn speaking to Kwai Chang Caine.

"Deal with evil from strength, but affirm the good in man through trust. In this way, we are prepared for evil, but we encourage good." -- Master Kahn

"And is good a great reward for trusting?" -- Young Caine

"In striving for an ideal, we do not seek rewards. Yet trust does sometimes bring with it a great reward, even greater than good." -- Master Kahn

"What is greater than good?" -- Young Caine

"Love." -- Master Kahn

"And what is love?" -- Young Caine

"Love is harmony, even in discord." -- Master Kahn

senshincenter
04-04-2005, 02:24 PM
One can quote the bible for the devil or the lord,, forgive my blatant paraphrasing of Shakespeare but i think it is pertinent. This holds true for O'sensei too. We could quote and counter quote all night. There are quotations that tell us to strike the enemy down and there are quotes telling us to save our partner and to love the world. Are we wrong to dismiss one and follow the other. Which one do we dismiss? The one on striking and attacking because it doesn't follow with our belief system or the one on love because we are seeking a practical martial experience?


Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves - what one wants to do with History, or not do with History, is one's own business. Regardless, History exists, and this notion of minimal damage came from somewhere. Questions on the history of that notion are neither a support or a condemnation of that notion. It is what it is. Thus, we don't invalidate the history of certain things, nor our own interests in such histories, simply because we long for the legitimacy of seeking validation within our own person and/or our own time alone.

dmv

senshincenter
04-04-2005, 02:27 PM
In Invincible Warrior, by John Stevens there is a story about this. Supposedly someone once ask O-sensei if he had any great disappointments in life. One of the things that he said was a failure on his part was an injury that he caused. He was teaching at a police training seminar when one of the students started to strongly resist a wrist technique that O-sensei was applying to him, and so his wrist was injured. O-sensei said that while this may have taught him a lesson in the old way of thinking, that it was not his way, and he resolved after that to refine his technique so that no one would ever get hurt.

I may have gotten some of that story wrong, it's been awhile since I've read that book, but I believe that was the gist of the story. Anyway you can look it up yourself. :D


Assuming your citation is accurate: Again, I think this would lend support to the position of not injuring in total. One would be hard-pressed to see this as a support "minimal damage."

Can I ask a new question to everyone: Does anyone know the history of Westbrook and Ratti? Where did they train? Who were their teachers? Did they train in other arts? Under what circumstances was their book published? Etc.?

Thanks in advance.

jester
04-04-2005, 02:35 PM
"If a man dwells on the past, then he robs the present; but if a man ignores the past, he may rob the future.

The seeds of our destiny are nurtured by the roots of our past." -- Master Po

senshincenter
04-04-2005, 02:57 PM
If I executed my technique without intent to cause harm, using my skills and abilities to deal with an unprovoked attack outside the dojo (where the attacker intended me harm), then any damage that occurred to the attacker as a consequence would be as a result of his own violence, not my Aikido.

I can understand how the issue of "intent" is relevant for today's legal notions of responsibility, etc., but, as I said earlier, such notions aren't really supported by the Osensei quotes mentioned thus far. From the point of view of a subject/object reconciliation, such issues really just look like "fancy lawyering." They are a kind of, excuse me, a kind of "weaseling" out of one's place in the suffering of the world. Again, I understand the practicality of such issues, and I understand why they speak to our modern common sense, but they represent a different take on the topic of moral behavior. As such, I hardly think they are a solution to things - certainly not a solution to what they claim to be solving, and certainly not a solution on par with the one offered by Osensei (in the quotes thus far mentioned). Come on, are you really achieving anything positive at all by telling some kid that you didn't kill his father - that his father killed himself by attacking you? Is that really the end of the story? Is your part in the story all done? Etc.?

jss
04-04-2005, 03:54 PM
From the book reviews on this site,
concerning Aikido & the Dynamic Sphere:
The authors of this book studied aikido in the U.S. and Europe. Although they were only shodan when they wrote the book, the authors consulted with many of the top teachers in the states at that time, including Yoshimitsu Yamada sensei, head of New York Aikikai. (Mike Lee)

Anyone else knows more?

ps to David Valdez: thanks for keeping the thread on track.

Ron Tisdale
04-04-2005, 04:25 PM
I recently read a post from Ellis Amdur that I really liked...it seems to me to have a place in this thread...

http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=72842&highlight=#72842

Alfonso
04-04-2005, 04:28 PM
Mr. Ratti and Ms. Westbrook published this book in 1970, and it has been reedited recently. I understand they started Aikido training under Yasuo Ohara in N.Y. city around 1960, before Yamada sensei arrived there. Contemporaries include Ralph Gladstein Sensei and Rick Rowell Sensei (shameless plug).

I'd say being an Aikidoka in the early 60's must have been quite different than now. O-Sensei was around, people who looked into Aikido at that time were usually alreayd interested in martial arts, no new age stuff yet, nor were there the bigger splits, and so on. The book is interesting in that regards too..

senshincenter
04-04-2005, 04:34 PM
I found this short bio too:

"Oscar Ratti, a friend and associate of FightingArts.com's founder, Christopher Caile, has contributed a number of his illustrations to various articles appearing on the site. He is an advocate of competition to test the self and the validity of one's training. He also believes that the study of martial arts could be enhanced by the understanding of the common principles of movement, engagement and technique that are universal to combat.

Ratti is an author and internationally acclaimed illustrator known for his action portrayals of martial arts in his best selling books, "Secrets of the Samurai" and "Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere" (co-written by A. Westbrook) as well as in many martial arts magazines. He new book , "Tales of the Hermit," is scheduled for release in March, 2000. Formerly an intercollegiate Greco-Roman wrestling champion, Ratti also was a member of a champion judo team and an aikido practitioner."

ruthmc
04-05-2005, 06:21 AM
Is a tornado violent? Is a storm?
Sure, but we're talking about people here, not weather. I haven't seen any tornados show up at my dojo in a gi :D

Can't an action be regarded as violent with out Mal intent? One must violently strike the mat to dissipate the force when performing Tobi ukemi does that make the action wrong?
An action can be violent without mal-intent - striking the mat violently may well jar your body pretty hard though! However, when it comes to an interaction between two people, one chosing to inflict violence upon the other does call intent into the equation, IMHO.

Secondly you perform a technique that results in dropping another person on the floor or manipulating a joint in an un-natural direction but you have no responsibility for the outcome of such an action?
My responsibility is to do it in such a way that no harm comes to the other person, and in the dojo that is exactly how I train. In the street, an attacker is responsible for chosing to attack me, so he choses the consequences. Have you read any Terry Pratchett? In Ankh-Morpork the guards have a few interesting definitions of suicide, such as wandering alone and unarmed into The Shades at night with a bag of money... :) My philosophy on what happens to attackers in the street is somewhat similar. :cool:

Ruth

Ketsan
04-05-2005, 08:28 PM
The attacker may well have chosen to attack you but you have chosen to retaliate and chosen what form and how that retaliation will be carried out. Forcing someone to the ground and/or inflicting pain by choice (you could choose to simply evade or get hit) is inherently violent. By carrying out the technique in the knowlege of it's effects you are intentionally harming someone, even if you desire not to. This is violence. If you had no such intention you would not be performing the technique. You cannot choose not to halm someone and halm them at the same time.

Abasan
04-05-2005, 10:10 PM
In most conflicts either villain or victim will get harmed. The one who harms, harms his spirit as much as the victim is physically/mentally harmed. The victim of course bears the harm directly.

But in Aikido as in most martial arts, once you have mastered it beyond the rudimentary techniques, no harm has to be delivered in order for it to retain its effectiveness.

Take for example nikkyo. A lot of us balk at getting a full force nikkyo that will snap our wrists into kingdom hell for months. But a good aikidoka can bring you down to your knees in an instant with nikkyo but without the hurt at all. Somehow, my legs and body can be controlled by just the smallest of twitches coming from my fingers and wrist especially with my balance taken completely.

I think it has everything to do with your capability and not the art though. If any of us has the power to control an attacker without harming him but chooses to harm him instead willfully because of ego, anger or impatience, then spiritually we are harmed ourselves. Because we choose to do evil instead of good.

However, most of us do not have that power (or consistently have it), thus we do the next best thing. I.e. not leaving ourselves to harm because if we did, not only do we harm ourselves spiritually (for being stupid) but definitely physically as well.

IMHO I don't think there's any art our there that gives you that complete control from the outset. It has to come with mastery of the art, even in Aikido.

xuzen
04-06-2005, 04:03 AM
...<snip>...
Take for example nikkyo. A lot of us balk at getting a full force nikkyo that will snap our wrists into kingdom hell for months. But a good aikidoka can bring you down to your knees in an instant with nikkyo but without the hurt at all. Somehow, my legs and body can be controlled by just the smallest of twitches coming from my fingers and wrist especially with my balance taken completely.
...<snip>....

Abasan,

Hey, have you been reading the Yoshinkan Manual again. You really should start reading other books e.g., Nursery Rhymes 101 etc. Just kidding... :D ... :D ... :D .

Sorry. :sorry:

Boon.

happysod
04-06-2005, 06:03 AM
The one who harms, harms his spirit as much as the victim is physically/mentally harmed. my spirit can take it, damn thing's done me less good than my nose anyway

But in Aikido as in most martial arts, once you have mastered it beyond the rudimentary techniques, no harm has to be delivered in order for it to retain its effectiveness. So your take on atemi is a ki-blast which doesn't actually hit? Sorry, no harm done in a real (tm) situation just doesn't happen - even if you manage to leg it first and no confrontation happens, you'll still have to deal with the dry heaves afterwards (and all the should-haves, could-haves that most peoples brains love to bring up just when you're feeling good about yourself...).

The only good situation is one that doesn't happen in the first place.

ian
04-06-2005, 06:13 AM
In my perception, aikido is definately not about walking away or avoiding a fight. It is about meeting a person and cooperating with them so you both get what you want. Timidity is not a method to prevent attack (nor is aggressiveness). I believe aikidoka should have confidence, honesty and the acceptance of the aggressors desire to attack or not, whatever the case may be.

I think if aikido is done well, in a practical situation, there will be less likelyhood of damage with less aggressive attacks since you are moving with less momentum/energy. However I know Ueshiba has been known to have said (to Shioda and Yamada I think) something like, 'in a real situation you have to finish it quickly...you know what I mean by finish it don't you?' (apologies for paraphrasing).

You have to think to yourself, what is the point of disabling/killing someone. If you believe there is a point to it, well, maybe you should do that. Personally, since I don't believe my life is any more valuable than another person's life, I think killing someone is no better (or worse) than you yourself being killed.

David Humm
04-06-2005, 07:13 AM
You have to think to yourself, what is the point of disabling/killing someone. If you believe there is a point to it, well, maybe you should do that. Personally, since I don't believe my life is any more valuable than another person's life, I think killing someone is no better (or worse) than you yourself being killed.In a life or death situation who would you prefer to walk away after ?

In a conflict, I fail to understand how or why your life would be any less valuable than the scumbag who decided to attempt to assault you. Would your family feel your life was on equal par with a person who inflicted injury or death on you... I doubt it.

Aikido is a martial art, use it accordingly and with due consideration for the circumstances which you find yourself in. This may include simply walking away, right through to handing some scumbag his arse on a platter.

Dave

Ed Stansfield
04-08-2005, 09:24 AM
Lots of people have told me that the idea of Aikido is to leave the attacker unharmed but I've never really seen this myself.

I dislike the idea that principles of non-harm are somehow implicit in Aikido; that they either "inhabit" the techniques themselves or that by practicing Aikido or applying an Aikido technique you are striving not to harm someone.

Equally, if we're looking at not harming someone, I can't accept that there's a substantive difference between say, moving out of the way of a punch so that the attacker falls over, applying kotegaishi so that the attacker falls over, or entering and hitting the attacker really hard in the face so that they fall over. The question of intent just seems irrelevent to the end result and to me, the end result in each case could be achieved by the use of Aikido.

I don't think you can say "I didn't harm them - they harmed themselves by attacking me" any more than you can say "I didn't harm them - it was the bullet that I fired out of this gun" or even "I didn't harm them - I just didn't push them out of the way of that falling piano". Those examples aren't meant to be as flippant as they sound . . .

I'm not saying that there's no difference between harming someone and not harming them, or that the intent not to cause someone harm is a bad thing. I just feel that the intent and the causation and the principle (if any) of harming or not harming are all with the person themselves and not with the art.

It's the person and not the art that takes responsibility.

IMO.

Best,

Ed


PS: Hello Abasan - It's been a while hasn't it? Hope you're keeping well !

-

rob_liberti
04-11-2005, 10:24 AM
When I read this thread, I am reminded of Saotome sensei discussing "satsu jin ken and katsu jin ken" the sword that gives life and the sword that kills. That must be in one of his books.

I am also reminded of a story I heard from Gleason sensei about some shihan who was being attacked in real life (outside of the dojo) by several people. The story goes that while dealing with the other attackers, the aikidoka noticed that one of the attackers who ended up flying past him headfirst at a brick wall - so that aikidoka somehow swotted at that flying attacker to change his direction so that the attacker hit the wall with his shoulder instead of his head. I think about this when I think about minimum damage.

Of course, ideally you want to do no damage. But since we are not ideal, we settle for doing the least amount. I think it is the same kind of idea as when people try to argue that there is no unselfish actions because it can be argued that the person performing the aaction does it selfishly for the good feeling - or whatever. The idea is that selfless actions and doing no harm are more spiritual goals to aspire to. IMO.

Rob

senshincenter
04-11-2005, 05:09 PM
Of course, ideally you want to do no damage. But since we are not ideal, we settle for doing the least amount.


Rob, this is not a rebuttal of your position, but I would like to raise the following issue once again - using your post as a springboard.

This all makes sense, this position; it all makes sense at a "common" level of thinking. However, we should note that all ideals are marked by our distance from them. That is to say, we do not hold ideals up as something we can hold on a regular basis and/or without challenge – they are not what come to us “naturally” or easily. This is what makes them ideals – the likely failure to uphold them is what makes the ideal. In the same way then, we should note that what comes to us easily or “naturally” cannot and/or should not be considered ideal. The fact that “we are not ideal” is no reason whatsoever to settle for less. The fact that “we are not ideal” is in no way a basis for making what comes to us naturally or easily the new ideal. If our ideal is non-violence or non-injury then minimum injury and/or minimum violence does not become the next best thing – and certainly not the moral equivalent of the latter. It forever remains a departure from the ideal – no matter how difficult that ideal is to achieve.

If I were to pursue this line of reasoning, when I hear the story you mentioned, I do not hear an ideal being met, or even the “next best thing.” It is not for me a story of great virtue – it holds no morale worthy of emulation. Rather, from the point of view of idealizing non-violence and/or non-injury, I have to ask, “What kind of immoral (or un-right) life is a person living that he/she is attacked by multiple people? How seriously is the virtue of non-violence and/or non-injury being taken if one can end up in a multiple attacker situation?” The answer, for me, “Not very seriously.” Moreover, if the story happened in Japan, which is place where multiple attacker situations in the modern age are an extremely rare occurrence within a moral lifestyle, then my answer would be, “Not at all.” These answers I would hold regardless of the great skill and awareness demonstrated by stopping someone’s head from hitting a brick wall. Why? Because of the little skill that is required to stay out of multiple attacker situations. For me, the story would have been more virtuous had it mentioned how the practitioner maneuvered to accelerate the person’s head into the wall – as in that case it would have at least been consistent with itself on many more levels.

Back to the question at hand:

Is it not “strange,” or at least worthy of more question, that something that seems to be posited by a couple of shodans, who trained under someone else who probably wasn’t all that trained to be a teacher at the time, has played a role in defining Aikido in such a way that it is hard to make sense of things historically and philosophically? Such a view (i.e. minimum damage as a moral principle) probably has more to do with the moral philosophy that was being produced in Ivy League schools at that time than with Budo, Aikido, and/or the teachings of Osensei. Can we not ask today: “Would we all so readily accept characteristics of Aikido that are said to be defining if they were passed along by two shodan level practitioners?” I do not think so. I think the authors of “Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere” got in “under the wire” because there was no wire at that time. Since then, the book has gone on to describe what Aikido is and/or should be for a great many people – perhaps more so than any other book. However, now that there is a wire, and since so many understand so much more, it is time to seriously question what a couple of shodan wrote in a book that was published in a kind of void of “not enough information.” For me, the position of minimum damage is not a moral virtue – it is an economic stance. For modern governments, which gain a lot from the philosophy taught in Ivy League schools, economics and morality have become bedfellows. However, for human beings, I am not so sure we should (so easily) join these things in bed.

Again, just thinking out loud,
david

rob_liberti
04-12-2005, 02:34 PM
David,

I really liked:

"O-sensei's unification of the Same and the Other is coming from the philosophies he practiced -- philosophies wherein the subject/object dichotomy was reconciled."

and

"No matter how economical one gets in one's practice, one is still practicing a type of action that first injures our opponent and thus us, and that second denies the Oneness of my being with the being of my opponent."

I would say that it is equally unreasonable to deny that we would have different levels of ability towards manifesting the ideal. Further, I would claim that the Founder of aikido clearly understood that aikidoka would have different levels of ability towards manifesting the ideal as evidenced by him using a ranking system. Of course I cannot say for sure that the Founder actually held the position that an aikido should do minimal damage. However, it seems that he would have had the expectation that his students (and their students) who are not yet grandmasters would have this "do minimal damage" position as the best manifestation of the ideal that they at whatever their current level could achieve. I put it in the same spiritual ideal category as "altruism".

For my level of ability, I say that you should constantly get yourself into the position where you can do maximum damage to the attacker and then from that position choose to do the minimum amount of damage to them to keep yourself safe. To my way of thinking, this is the only way aikido has any chance of working at all. As you get better that minimum amount of damage you would need to do should decrease towards doing "no damage". How else do you suggest approaching our training towards doing "no damage"?

It seems clear to me that when you are low level with respect to the situation, the minimum damage you need to do to stay safe might just also happen to be maximum damage. No one would argue that level is not ideal.

As I have improved, I have also seen a lot of the craziness leave an attacker when their balance gets taken from them and they find themselves vulnerable and yet NOT taken further advantage of. It really depends on the threat level - which has a lot to do with your depth in understanding and ability and also the craziness / toughness of the attacker.

From a practical point of view I think it should be that you drop down in levels of sophistication as needed. I believe that if you are not training to at start at minimum damage, then I question if you are really doing aikido. We hold our police to these kinds of ideals bounded by the reality of the situation. The police have a lot of power, and we require them to somewhat match the level of violence they use on someone who is attacking them. If someone yells at a cop, the cop doesn't get to shoot him. Similarly, if someone says the cop looks fat in those pants the cop doesn't get to punch them in the face. As a society, we hold people of power to these kind of standards for a good reason because there is a difference between defending yourself and just satisfying your ego.

I am a believer in the phrase "You become the mind you train." If you train to hurt people then that is going to be your response when pressed. If you train to do minimal damage, then that's what you are going to do. If you train to do no damage and that is beyond your ability you are not doing yourself any favors -- and I don't think that would be aikido either. In my unsolicited opinion, it is also dangerous - possibly more dangerous - to actively train violence in ego gratifying ways.

I read somewhere that one of the aikido guys felt something like 'in quest to develop the ultimate combat effective art that can be learned in 2 years we are loosing a lot of the value of studying martial arts' or something like that - I can't do it justice. I've been thinking about this because for some reason I liked it, but I disliked it too. I finally realize that the reason is that I think it would be great for everyone to take 2 years and learn that ultimate combat ready defense system and get that out of the way so we can move on to studying valuable daily practices like aikido devoid of the fear of what would happen if… and armed with exactly what could be done so that the choice to do less and ultimately no damage can be realized.

Rob

senshincenter
04-12-2005, 03:48 PM
Hi Rob,

Thanks for working my mind here – thanks for the reply.

You wrote: “Further, I would claim that the Founder of aikido clearly understood that aikidoka would have different levels of ability towards manifesting the ideal as evidenced by him using a ranking system. Of course, I cannot say for sure that the Founder actually held the position that an aikido should do minimal damage. However, it seems that he would have had the expectation that his students (and their students) who are not yet grandmasters would have this "do minimal damage" position as the best manifestation of the ideal that they at whatever their current level could achieve.”

I cannot with confidence state that the Founder held such ideals for anyone other than himself and/or for anyone other than that “general” or “abstract” deshi instructors use as a point of reference whenever they want to generally talk about some of the more abstract elements of their art. After all, such a moral position is obviously tied to Osensei’s religious worldview, and we know that most of his deshi either claim that they did not understand his view and/or that Osensei did not require that they understand it. By extension then, I think one would be hard-pressed to suggest that Osensei connected the comprehension and/or realization of such a worldview to notions of institutional rank and/or of progress. In addition, one could even argue that Osensei shows more signs of not understanding the modern ranking system than of understanding it – as there are historical examples where he subverted such a system via things like “over-promotion,” etc. Still, I can concede that it is not unreasonable to suggest that Osensei may have felt or understood that for many the notion of “minimal damage” is the closest that one could get to the ideal of “non-injuring,” etc. However, and this is what I feel is important, such a concern assumes that the Founder saw his art as non-injurious – and that my friend is the assumption that is up in the air right now. For if the Founder did not see his art as non-injurious, if his position on the oneness of Mankind is indeed seated firmly in a mystical worldview, then it is likely that the Founder’s caveats against violence are not a call for us to discover a new non-lethal technology but rather to purify from our own heart/minds the will to violence and all that supports it.

You asked: “As you get better the minimum amount of damage you would need to do, you should decrease towards doing "no damage". How else do you suggest approaching our training towards doing "no damage"?”

Certainly, we can see, to do some damage, even as little as possible, cannot lead to doing no damage – as “some damage” is always in the opposite direction from “no damage.” This remains true even if it is more proximal to “no damage” than “maximum damage.” That is to say, the orientation and/or direction of “minimal damage” are antithetical to the ideal of “non-injury.” It can only ever remain this. So I would suggest a whole other perspective is in order – should one truly want to hold the ideal of non-violence and/or non-injury. Moreover, I would suggest that a mystical worldview does indeed present such an alternative – one that also remains much more practical.

How else do I suggest approaching our training towards doing “no damage”? By leaving our training lethal and by working upon ourselves along a keen martial edge so that we do not ever need to employ it. As we improve, our art should simply get more lethal, and thus more capable of honing our body/mind so that it does not require of us to act out violently. In short, I would suggest, the way to discover how we injure ourselves when we injure another is not to gain a kote-gaeshi that just lays folks down (while we support the back of their head for good measure). Rather, it is to penetrate our own being to such a depth that we realize the oneness between us all. The capacity to penetrate are own being, I would suggest, is directly proportional to how lethal one’s art is and/or can be. For me, the non-lethality of our art, the idealizing of “minimal damage,” is the way that we block ourselves from participating in this oneness. How? Because it forces us to preoccupy ourselves with mundane things – as our Aikido becomes a mundane thing as well.

I have written a bit on this at our web site – there are some video clips that go with it. Maybe you might find it interesting – if you got some time, please check it out, and let me know what you think:

http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/vids/metsukeangleofdeflection.html

thanks,
david

rob_liberti
04-12-2005, 10:44 PM
(I haven't had a moment to read your article yet, but I wanted to respond to what you wrote here while I had a moment.)

one could even argue that Osensei shows more signs of not understanding the modern ranking system than of understanding it -- as there are historical examples where he subverted such a system via things like "over-promotion,"
Sometimes when someone understands the rules extremely well, they know them well enough to know when it is appropriate to subvert them. I heard a story that one day George Osawa and a bunch of his macrobiotic followers where in a train station in Japan. Some of the followers were a bit upset because they were all very hungry but all they could find was white rice. I believe that he simply explained that eating white rice one time wouldn't kill them.

It seems to me that it can be both "discover a new non-lethal technology" AND "to purify from our own heart/minds the will to violence and all that supports it".

By leaving our training lethal and by working upon ourselves along a keen martial edge so that we do not ever need to employ it. As we improve, our art should simply get more lethal, and thus more capable of honing our body/mind so that it does not require of us to act out violently.
While I certainly agree with this, I am skeptical about the depth of the progress we will make if we do that while not constantly working towards actively choosing to do the least amount of damage. From my perspective, all lethal with no challenge to find an equally effective no-damage solution seems to lead to an equally mundane art as well.

Rob

senshincenter
04-13-2005, 12:58 AM
From my perspective, all lethal with no challenge to find an equally effective no-damage solution seems to lead to an equally mundane art as well.

Yes, then, this is where we must part in opinion. For me, it's not challenge to find an "equally effective no-damage solution." It's not a challenge because we are so prone to believing our own delusion that we have found one, that we should find one, and/or that we can find one. If we look around, we have lots of folks already fully buying into the Westbrooke and Ratti position - they all believe the delusion. In fact, Aikido is known to the world via this view. This position, or the belief that one has found a non-injurious method of self-defense, is never fully tested, so it's believable. It causes us to rewrite history, and so its believable. It causes us to misunderstand other arts, and so it is believable. Etc. It hardly seems like any real kind of challenge since the capacity to be deluded is so likely and so supported by so much.

If there is a challenge here, it is the challenge to not be subject to such delusion. However, this challenge, I would propose, connects us to a whole other type of self-reflection - one more akin to what I was stating (I feel). Still, an even bigger challenge is to purify the will to violence within our heart/minds. No challenge is bigger than that - not for modern Man at least. Keeping our art lethal allows for this "challenge" to be reconciled - in more ways than one might imagine at first glance. Keeping our art lethal and keeping that lethality within a culture of non-violence and fellowship among all Mankind is the paradox that is needed for true self-reflection to take place (and thus for delusion to be combated). For me, this is entirely different from just trying to be lethal. So I would not say that understanding our art's lethality in the way I propose is free of challenge and/or free of challenges that would prevent it from becoming mundane. This I feel I can say while I can also say that I can appreciate any effort one might have to reduce violence in this world - such as your own.

(Also, I'm do not think that Osensei can be said to be "thinking outside of the box" when it came to his misunderstandings of the new ranking system. As I remember it from articles read over at AJ, his actions were corrected and/or halted from further occurrence. They are clearly the actions of someone that did not understand fully the new workings of the new institution - and the institution let him know that in those cases. However, I am digressing with this line of thought from the topic of the thread.)

david

jss
04-13-2005, 06:34 AM
If we look around, we have lots of folks already fully buying into the Westbrooke and Ratti position - they all believe the delusion. In fact, Aikido is known to the world via this view. This position, or the belief that one has found a non-injurious method of self-defense, is never fully tested, so it's believable.
By leaving our training lethal and by working upon ourselves along a keen martial edge so that we do not ever need to employ it. As we improve, our art should simply get more lethal, and thus more capable of honing our body/mind so that it does not require of us to act out violently.

What does this imply for the practical application of aikido in self-defence?
Is it ok to injure an attacker in a non-violent, non-agressive mindset? (Or is this a logical contradiction?)
Or is the applicaton of aikido techniques in self-defence an 'incorrect' application? Is aikido only meant to hone body/mind and not meant for practical application? Implying that although it is hard to think of defending yourself as wrong, it means you failed as an aikidoka at that particular time?

Joep

rob_liberti
04-13-2005, 08:55 AM
David, I have the impression that if we actually got to train together we would be very much on the same page.

I think that we are all deluded to some degree - some more than others.

You certainly may be right about O-sensei's ranking system. Speaking of delusion, I can think of some well known shihans (and of course a few frauds) who should probably decline to do any more seminars until they get a better handle on some of the basic waza. (When a shihan asked me and another sandan to please just pretend that his nikyo and sankyo worked - I really wanted to say no problem as long as you refund the money you are charging for this seminar! - I'll not mention any names.) I suspect that you are worried that people taking to "do minimal damage" position inadvertently support the combination of "deluded and weak". To me that risk is the lesser of two evils...

As far as I am concerned, the real problem is that I think this world has more than enough deluded people who practice nothing but "maximum damage" at all martial times. They kid themselves by saying well, I'd only use it if someone were threatening me or my family. When pressed, they will do what they practice - even if the situation could have been handled much more peacefully by someone who bothered to develop those skills instead of gratifying their ego for years and years.

Particularly in aikido, I see a lot of aikido people trying to get "better fighting" as their main goal as opposed to developing their spirit through the practice with "better fighting" as a resulting by-product.

I do not necessarily disagree with much of your point of view espeically about continuing to learn how to be more lethal within our art. I simply feel that this should be a by-product of the training.

I liked it when I saw the Modern Arnis folks choose to hit their partner's cane (their fighting stick) instead of smashing their partner's hand, wrist, or forearm. I don't know if anyone in the class other than the teacher was actively making the choice each strike, but the teacher was. I think the same can be true for aikido.

I am concerned because I think that your position about keeping our art lethal with only the long term stretch-goal of purifying the will to violence within our heart/minds - and no short-term or mid-term goal of constantly making more and more progress towards developing the ability to manifest the long-term goal will inadvertently support those with the unfortunate combination of "deluded and dangerous".

Rob

Ron Tisdale
04-13-2005, 09:37 AM
Some how this whole topic seems delusional. The (lucky) fact is, most of us will not have to defend ourselves physically outside of the dojo. I believe if that is so, the proper context for this discussion is "in the dojo". If that is true, then of course we want to do minimal/no harm to our uke. Which is entirely different from dealing with someone really attacking us to do harm.

On multiple attackers being easy to avoid...it is not necessarily so. For instance, I have a great aunt who lives in a very bad neighborhood. She refuses to leave (she would have to be declared incompetant to get her to leave). In this neighborhood, dealing with multiple attackers is not unheard of (had to deal with it myself). So, in my daily life, being physically attacked is the least of my justifiable worries. But occationally, reality and obligation forces me out of that context, and nothing I could morally do would stop that possibility from occuring. David, are you saying that the instructor in Rob's story could not have been in such a situation?

My first paragraph and my second represent a paradox...aikido is in the dojo because it is unlikely for me to need the physical skills outside the dojo...and yet, there are situations where I could need the physical skills outside of the dojo through no fault of my own. I resolve that paradox by saying in the dojo, no harm to uke. Outside the dojo, let the attacker beware. I was fortunate that my presentation to the would be attackers mentioned above caused them to change their minds. It could just have easily have gone another way. I can assure you that I wouldn't have been worried about them cracking their skulls on the pavement. It is just as sure that I probably would have found simply surviving a much bigger concern.

Best,
Ron

RonRagusa
04-13-2005, 11:48 AM
What does this imply for the practical application of aikido in self-defence?
Is it ok to injure an attacker in a non-violent, non-agressive mindset? (Or is this a logical contradiction?)
Or is the applicaton of aikido techniques in self-defence an 'incorrect' application? Is aikido only meant to hone body/mind and not meant for practical application? Implying that although it is hard to think of defending yourself as wrong, it means you failed as an aikidoka at that particular time?

Joep

I believe first and foremost, not only do you have a right to self-defense, you have a responsibility to defend yourself and your loved ones in the event of an attack. The means at your disposal to fulfill that responsibility are boundless. The method you choose from the means at your disposal is the key. As Aikido practitioners part of our training entails gaging an attack situation and selecting an appropriate response to resolve the conflict. Least possible harm doesn't mean no harm and if the situation calls for a lethal response then you are perfectly justified in applying lethal force. Aikido training provides guidelines for behavior in such situations. Self-defense is the practical application of technique based on those guidelines.

Part of the problem here is the intermingling of self-defense with Aikido. Self-defense is an art in its own right although it isn't often viewed as such. More often self-defense is viewed as a by-product of martial arts training. My wife, Mary, has been teaching self-defense for over 15 years. She bases her system on Aikido principles, easy to learn and execute techniques (not necessarily aiki) and common sense decision making. As a result of her research we have come to the conclusion that practical self-defense transcends specific martial arts. You can think of self-defense as a superset with the various martial arts styles as subsets of it.

Regarding your last question; I'd much rather walk away from an assault and ponder whether or not I've failed as an Aikidoka than be left lying bleeding and broken in the gutter.

senshincenter
04-13-2005, 01:18 PM
Joep, Rob, Ron - all great posts. Thanks. You've all brought up some great points - all things necessary for keeping our feet on the ground - which I think is important if we are dealing with things of the spirit and of big moral questions, etc. So thanks for the "reality check" - always needed.

I will try and reply in time, but please excuse any delay I may have to take. Will try to get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks,
dmv

senshincenter
04-13-2005, 02:38 PM
What does this imply for the practical application of aikido in self-defence?
Is it ok to injure an attacker in a non-violent, non-agressive mindset? (Or is this a logical contradiction?)
Or is the applicaton of aikido techniques in self-defence an 'incorrect' application? Is aikido only meant to hone body/mind and not meant for practical application? Implying that although it is hard to think of defending yourself as wrong, it means you failed as an aikidoka at that particular time?

Joep



I am not so sure these questions have to arise again. As I said before, I think Osensei’s mystical thinking presents an alternative to such lines of reasoning.

For me, and here I am departing somewhat from the thread’s topic (though it does reveal my underlying ideas), Aikido is a Budo. Aikido is not a secular practice wherein the object of training is the mundane goal of being able to defend oneself when attacked. Rather, Aikido, as a Budo, uses the task of being (of becoming) able to defend oneself as a tool to transcend the Self, to Awaken, to purify the body/mind, to bring a religious meaning or significance to our lives, etc. (you can pick the phrase). In short, Aikido uses a secular pursuit (i.e. the capacity to fight, to defend oneself, to act martially, etc.) as path for spiritual cultivation. (The key question is “How?” – but I will save that for later I guess – though it is something I touch upon in the link I provided up above.)

For me, if we lose the tool we are using for cultivation, we lose the cultivation. For example, if landscaping was our Way: If we lose our rocks, trees, rivers, other natural elements, and if we lose our concept of beauty, serenity, and/or if we have no overall concept by which we understand Nature, etc., then we have lost our tool for cultivation. Thus, landscaping as a Way loses its efficacy and therefore it ceases to exist as such.

On the other hand, if we become preoccupied with the tool for cultivation alone (i.e. landscaping/to act martially, etc.), if we become obsessed with the surface of our training, the tool for cultivation ceases to be a tool (since it is not made the objective), and again our Way ceases to exist. For example, again using landscaping: If we become obsessed or preoccupied with rocks and trees, with beauty and with serenity, and/or our understanding of Nature, and if we thereby fail to see how such things can and should be reflected in and by our inner being, then landscaping as a Way ceases to exist. One is only landscaping.

For me, Aikido as a Budo is the same thing. Aikido gains its practical and secular efficacy in its capacity to be martial. Because it holds this practical and secular efficacy, it possesses enough integrity and truth to support the spiritual practice of deep self-reflection and reconciliation. If we lose even one of these elements, if we lose either the martial integrity of Aikido or if we become preoccupied with the superficial elements that make up that martial integrity and lose our spiritual objectives, Aikido as a Way ceases to exist. For Aikido to be a Way, the practical must support the spiritual and the spiritual must support the practical. Most importantly, we must note, “support” does not mean that the two things must be metaphorical to each other and/or symbolic of each other. We are dealing her with a cultivation of the Self and not merely with the development of a discourse.

For me, Aikido as a Way does not fail because we may utilize the tool of our self-cultivation outside of the dojo. “Fail” is the wrong word, since the Way is not subject to such finalities once we are treading upon it. Success in the Way can only be measured by continued cultivation. A failure, any failure, may be part of that continuance. For example, such “failures” and/or “departures” may actually be the thing we need to figure out how to truly reconcile the practical with the spiritual. However, and not wanting to ignore your post, we can, if we would still like to, ask a moral question. We can ask, “Are we morally wrong when we must injure another?” For me, as I have hinted above, this is a whole other issue since a Way is not so much dependent upon a morality as it is often merely encased within one. As a whole other issue, these moral questions do not raise issues of practicality for me. They do not raise questions of practicality for me because Budo’s practicality was never meant to be measured morally. One is either cultivating oneself along Budo or one is not. Budo’s practicality only serves the cultivation of the spirit and thereby only touches morality as an incidental. Or, in other words, the Way always functions outside of a morality but for the times when we infuse our Way with a moral position. Not everyone does this, not everyone did this (historically speaking), and not everyone has to do this.

However, personally, I do seek to firmly encase my training in a morality. I also think Osensei did this as well – sort of tying this back into the thread’s topic. If I reflect upon my morality, I can see that it is Christian-based. I can see that it is centered on a Creator God, a brotherhood of Man, a sense of servitude, a practice of love and of sacrifice, and humility before the Truth. Thus, if you ask me, “Are you not morally wrong when you injure another person?” The answer would be “yes” – for to injure another (no matter how minimal) is to injure myself; to injure another is to injure God; is to deny the truth of my brotherhood with others, etc. Are there times when I must do it because it is the lesser of two evils or because it is the only option that presents itself for whatever reason? Yes, there are such times and there will always be such times. However, for a Man of peace, such things, no matter how inevitable, do not make a wrong a right. They only make wrongs likely, necessary, and inevitable.

As I come through this existence, as there is times when I come to feel I must or should do wrong, the efficacy of the Way continues regardless. I still require and make use of the secular pursuit to act martially as a process for spiritual cultivation. Yet, as I continue to evolve along this Path, my capacity to more thoroughly infuse a morality of Life and Creation within the Way becomes more likely. As such, as I continue to evolve, there become less and less times when the “need” or the “should” of violence arises to capitalize upon one aspect of my training along the Way.

senshincenter
04-13-2005, 02:54 PM
I am concerned because I think that your position about keeping our art lethal with only the long term stretch-goal of purifying the will to violence within our heart/minds - and no short-term or mid-term goal of constantly making more and more progress towards developing the ability to manifest the long-term goal will inadvertently support those with the unfortunate combination of "deluded and dangerous".

Rob

I think you are right Rob - we agree more than disagree. I can see that now in what you said in your last post. And as I said before, I would never fault your efforts and/or accomplishments. They have to be admired - even where they may differ from my own.

It is true, I imagine one could say that I am dealing with a long-term goal. But is not the quest for finding a martial technology wherein you can minimally damage another human being also a long term goal? Is it not the case that along the way toward that goal you as an instructor have other things in place to keep deshi from only training to create maximum damage and/or only becoming fighters? Do you not use the ideal of minimum damage to cultivate a spirit of peace, compassion, and wisdom within your deshi? Does not that ideal, as one measures him/herself against it, still have some efficacy before it can actually be embodied? Does not your dojo have a set of protocols by which deshi are aided in cultivating self-responsibility and concern for others, etc.? Do you not transmit every teaching as part of a larger whole wherein the ideals of Love and non-violence, etc., are held up? Etc. So it is with the ideal of purifying our will to violence. It takes place within a whole system of training - one that acts upon the deshi so as to discipline him/her toward this ideal and to manifest it in most cases, moving to more and more cases, as their capacity for purification finally arises and completes its task. One does not have to wait for the final accomplishment to have several accomplishments that are real and vital and meaningful along the way. Under the right circumstances, one can train in lethal pursuits and still find the path to non-violence, love, compassion, etc., even as one is on the Path (which is all there ever is anyways - right?) In the same way, I can concede your point and say, "One can, under the right circumstances, find martial integrity within the will to do minimal damage."

thanks,
dmv

senshincenter
04-13-2005, 03:28 PM
Hi Ron,

Perhaps if Rob could provide more details I could provide you with my specific answer to your questions. As it stands, I of course would have to agree with what you are implying: Such things can be forced upon us regardless of our actions and/or our lifestyle, etc. You are right. The Shihan in question may be in such a situation. It is possible that the Shihan was in a “very bad” neighborhood (not in Japan) wherein gangs or groups of people attack lone folks passing by.

Still, I don’t feel that this possibility makes it true that such situations in general are not so easy to avoid – if you will allow me, after all your aunt does it on a regular basis. I am sure you do it as well when you visit. If you grow up in such neighborhoods, you learn how to do such things from an early age. In other words, it does not take us to be the “exemplarily example” before we can figure out how to avoid such things and/or to get quite good at avoiding such things. Thus, we can very early on learn how to keep such things rare and/or to keep such things as occasional realities.

True, they happen. True, they can happen to the best of us and probably have. But, for me, it does not become more consistent with a life of Peace (should that be your goal in life) to stop someone’s head from hitting a wall than living a life wherein such things remain rare or completely absent. That was the point I tried to make. It is not the lesser of two evils that I was saying I would focus in upon when hearing the story; rather it was the greater of two goods. I was not focusing in upon whether it would be more consistent with non-injury to stop someone’s head from hitting the wall or letting it hit the wall. I was focusing in upon whether it would be more consistent with non-injury to stop someone’s head from hitting the wall or not being in a multiple attacker situation at all.

Out of curiosity, perhaps Rob could tell us more about the situation – or at least if it happened in Japan or in the States in a very bad neighborhood??? Rob???

Thanks Ron.

david

rob_liberti
04-13-2005, 04:08 PM
I don't mean to be discourtious, but I have no idea where that story happened.

Unfortunately, that was a story I heard from Gleason sensei and he is off in Ohio right now doing a week long camp about aikido and kotodama (www.shobuokugyo.com). When he is back, I will ask him and I hope he remembers.

I do agree that it would be a bit shocking to have happened in Japan but I can say from my personal experience that you can get someone pretty worked up in Japan by total accident - especailly as a gaijin!!! There were times when I was "invited to leave" a yatai by some creepy Japanese guy who was probably one of those ultra-nationalists who drive those big white and black vans with the loud speakers yelling about how bad the foreigners are amoung other things. I have also heard about a very powerful uchi deshi who totally flew off the handle at some poor guy who failed to bring his personal camera to dojo event - because the guy normally did (eventhough he was never asked to do so). The poor guy simply didn't bring his camera to one event, and there was a this uchi deshi yelling in rage at him while dragging about 5 people (his seniors!) across the floor to get at this poor guy. That uchi deshi is a terribly nice guy and I never thought he would lose it like that. My point is that, you can't avoid every problem.

I have some rental units. Sometimes I think I being a wonderful landlord and next thing you know I'm dealing with an angry tenant who might have some serious anger management issues. You never know. Pressure can get to people and people do snap.

Rob

Justin Gaar
04-14-2005, 10:00 AM
Aikido to me was always meant as a pain-less way of self-defense. You know, to deter the "attacker" while taking care that he does not get hurt. However, that's not always possible. Sometimes all you need to worry about is your own safety.

rob_liberti
04-14-2005, 11:39 AM
Just curios, how do you deal with the kamikazi attack? I know many people who would be more than willing to take atemi in the nose or let you break their fingers or wrist if they could get to your neck, etc.

Rob

Bodhi
04-15-2005, 07:53 PM
Ron, excellent question! A real fighter isnt going to back off at afew good shots, much less a little broken finger or hurt wrist! In most my fights i didnt even feel the pain until it was over. Besides, a fight doesnt last long, maybe 30 seconds at the very most and thats pushing it, unless its a multiples situation. Attackers arent trying to come at you easy and go 3 or 4 rounds pacing themselves, its gonna be off the hook for about 15 or 20 seconds and then its done! Almost anyone, even someone thats not really trying to hurt you can take some pain for 15 or 20 seconds. I have asked this question of many street fighters as well as NHB/MMA and the answer is always the same, "ya just dont feel it that much". What ends things quick are chokes, AND "if you can do it" repeat striking to vital areas and eye goudges. Even then it depends on your attacker, especially if they have a high pain tolerance with the mindset to match and really want to hurt you. This of course addresses empty hand situations alone, if you give me a blade, ill target vital anatomy i.e juglar, liver, kidneys, abdominal aorta, intestines aka what we call the "blueworm" I can access them quickly and efficiently while being assured my attacker will cease within afew seconds. Good blade work strives for this, if your life is truly in danger you end the confrontation, period, not just break something. In the end it really all boils down to how your training and who you have been training against! Its very important to train those wild crazy unpredictable attacks that just keep comming one on one, multiple opponents, with and without weapons or whatever. Get you some (minimal) safety equipment and try it, youll see what im talking about. Your attributes will evolve to a place you never thought possible.

Bodhi
04-16-2005, 08:33 PM
I meant to type Rob not Ron, my fingers got away from me :D

Lyle Laizure
04-17-2005, 02:15 AM
I think generally it means that one should do what is necessary to resolve a situation, not purposefully hurting someone just because you can.

rob_liberti
04-17-2005, 02:48 AM
I heard a story about what "Fuji" means. I'm told that the etymology of the character "fu" as in Mount Fuji basically means "2" as in futatsu, but really more like 2 opposites (yin and yang). I'm told that there are many examples of putting "fu" in front of things to make the meaning become "opposite" read as "not". The "ji" of "Fuji" also means "2". So the idea is that when you look at Mt. Fuji you see one side, and you know there must be another side (that you cannot see) - but the word means "not 2" - as in there are not two sides, only one mountain.

In aikido, there are not 2 people (uke and nage), but only one reconciled unit.

My opinion, is that working towards doing the "minimum damage" required to stay safe as the attackers become more sophisticated, more dramatic and intense, less concerned for their own safety, and as the number of attackers increases approaches this ideal in the most practical way to approach the ideal of purifying our will to violence.
.
It forces you to need to start figuring out how to reconcile the opposites of self and other - to have some degree of integrity with these principles when being pressed hard by your attacker(s).

This kind of approach, to me, has led me to the understanding that I need to continue to not buy into the delusion of separation (on the vertical plane). I must continue to move such in such a way to set up the circumstances that continue to draw/lead energy out of the uke primarily (and not into me in a destructive way of course) so that we can reconcile in a physical way. Normally, I see people in aikido misunderstanding this kind of thing (IMO!) where they end up just doing some kind of evasive movement and then they crank the uke from superior position. I don' t mean that low level nonsense. I mean, lead them out and unify (reconcile self and other) so that we both are contributing to the overall movement so it cannot be countered. Doing "minimal damage" lead me to that kokyu of social-coordination approach (instead of concentrating _only_ on the kokyu of self-coordination which I find to be interesting but obviously not the goal of aikido or we would all be doing Chen style tai chi or something!).

Finding efficacy within the bounds of do minimal harm and constantly refining towards being able to safely and effectively do even less harm with the same attack - then increasing the level of the attacks removes many of the mundane delusions like directly pushing, pulling, lifting, cranking/paining/threatening the uke, etc. I agree that it can only be done from a place where you have the choice to be lethal.

Rob

RonRagusa
04-17-2005, 08:48 AM
My opinion, is that working towards doing the "minimum damage" required to stay safe as the attackers become more sophisticated, more dramatic and intense, less concerned for their own safety, and as the number of attackers increases approaches this ideal in the most practical way to approach the ideal of purifying our will to violence.
Your idea can be extended back to before the conflict actually develops to the point where physical interaction becomes inevitable. Since most attackers are known to the person being attacked, not a stranger leaping out of the bushes as is commonly portrayed on TV and in the movies, lethal response is more often than not an undesirable outcome of the situation. Moreover, one has to consider that attacks are rarely physical. The probability is greater that you will be attacked non-physically far more often than you will be physically assaulted. I don't see "beingassaultedbybadlanguage shihonage" as a particularly appropriate technique.
It forces you to need to start figuring out how to reconcile the opposites of self and other - to have some degree of integrity with these principles when being pressed hard by your attacker(s).
This is especially important when one is involved in conflicts on the job, at home, in school etc; in short, those places where one is most likely to be involved in conflicts that don't start out as but can escalate to becoming physically violent.
In aikido, there are not 2 people (uke and nage), but only one reconciled unit.
This being the case we must acknowledge that conflict arises as a result of the actions of the constituents of the unit and that reconciliation cannot occur without coordinated action of both parties. To that end if we can own our responsibility in helping bring about the conflict we can take the first step in defusing it before it reaches the flash point.
I mean, lead them out and unify (reconcile self and other) so that we both are contributing to the overall movement so it cannot be countered.
I watched some video of the second Doshu on the Aikido Journal site the other day. I was amazed at how soft and subtle his technique was. Adhering to the principle above leads to that kind of technique where nage and uke are moving together in accordance, not discordance. It is what I strive to attain in my own practice and what I try to instill in my students.

Interesting post Rob, lots of food for thought.

senshincenter
04-17-2005, 08:35 PM
Rob, you wrote:

“My opinion, is that working towards doing the "minimum damage" required to stay safe as the attackers become more sophisticated, more dramatic and intense, less concerned for their own safety, and as the number of attackers increases approaches this ideal in the most practical way to approach the ideal of purifying our will to violence.
.
It forces you to need to start figuring out how to reconcile the opposites of self and other - to have some degree of integrity with these principles when being pressed hard by your attacker(s).

This kind of approach, to me, has led me to the understanding that I need to continue to not buy into the delusion of separation (on the vertical plane). I must continue to move such in such a way to set up the circumstances that continue to draw/lead energy out of the uke primarily (and not into me in a destructive way of course) so that we can reconcile in a physical way. Normally, I see people in aikido misunderstanding this kind of thing (IMO!) where they end up just doing some kind of evasive movement and then they crank the uke from superior position. I don' t mean that low level nonsense. I mean, lead them out and unify (reconcile self and other) so that we both are contributing to the overall movement so it cannot be countered. Doing "minimal damage" lead me to that kokyu of social-coordination approach (instead of concentrating _only_ on the kokyu of self-coordination which I find to be interesting but obviously not the goal of aikido or we would all be doing Chen style tai chi or something!).”



Hi Rob,

Two questions or lines of thought came to mind upon reading the above section of your post:

1. How or why does training toward the gaining of a non-violent (or less injurious) technology purify our will to violence? Certainly, we cannot say because our training takes on the ideal of minimum injurious or non-violence. After all, do we not already have this as an ideal – as something that comes to most of us through our culture alone? Can we not, as always, find ways of disregarding our ideals, no matter how virtuous they may be? Does this not mean then that time spent with an ideal is not really the issue here? When I first proposed the notion of purifying our will to violence, I did not mean to suggest that we can do such a thing simply by making greater and greater efforts toward being non-violent. I imagine you may also mean something different from that as well – hence my questions here. A will to violence is only partially born out of an ignorance to do or be otherwise, just as it is also only partially born out of a lack of effort to do or be otherwise. Hence, for me, simply supplying a kind of “wisdom” or a kind of “non-injurious technology,” or simply providing a kind of meta-practical outlet for people to mundanely explore the already pre-existent social ideal of non-violence one to a few hours a week, is going to leave a lot unturned and/or unpurified. In the same way that training in the use of a Taser may make one relatively less injurious but not necessarily purified of one’s will to violence, so too, I would suggest, training toward a non-injurious Aikido would fail in such a purification. This is one reason why, as the Taser becomes more and more widely used and thus comes to replace actual arrest and control skills and/or the soon to be completely defunct “controlling” use of the club (ballistically), we will see more and more Taser-related deaths and/or public outcry against the use of the “non-violent” weapon. Such things do not get to the heart of the problem whether we are wising to address that heart (will to violence) practically or spiritually. Thus, for example, it may be the case that we can acquire a skill to subdue many kinds of attacks without injury to the attacker, but will this make us more patient, more humble, more kind, less prone to hatred, less prone to anger, less prone to desire, less prone to ignorance, less prone to fear, etc.? And will not these things come to plague us daily in many other areas of our life where we may not be in a “fight” but where we may very well be prone to injure others by these things because of that same unpurified will to violence that is left untouched by the discovery of a technique?

2. By a complicated set of circumstances, which I imagine could be deduced, at least generally speaking, we do not see a coordination of people training realistically (i.e. as you said, where “attackers become more sophisticated, more dramatic and intense, less concerned for their own safety, and as the number of attackers increases,” etc.) AND training under the banner or toward the ideal of gaining a martial technology of minimum-injury. As I said, there are of course deducible reasons for such a trend in the Aikido world – many of them have been brought up in this forum here. However, willing to assume that such reasons and the trend they support do not have to make up an inevitable connection, the fact remains that a great many people are able to say they train where attackers become more sophisticated and intense, with less concern for their own safety, etc., but are in actuality quite far from this. I do not wish to regress this point into the usual line of thought where “what’s real” is all that we can talk about, etc. But, for example, when we use phrases like “more sophisticated” can we not at least note something that moves further and further from or beyond the level of Shu training? Moreover, can we not mean something that is at least outside the average or identifying training culture of Aikido? I would say “yes” to both of these questions, and yet I believe that this is even more rare a connection to see in the Aikido world. That is to say, you do not generally see a distancing from kihon waza, and/or Shu level training, and/or a technical sophistication of martial triggers or cues (e.g. attacks) in the general Aikido world – even in dojo that are known for training in “real” Aikido. Institution after institution is geared against such things and individual practitioners that are connected to an institution are prone to follow suit. So what do you do to sophisticate your training, or what does one need to do to sophisticate his/her training? Or more importantly, how often does one need to sophisticate his/her training? For example, do you move away from the abstract ballistic strikes of kihon waza training to the varied angled and timed strikes of left hook or the right cross or the uppercut on a weekly or daily basis? How often? How often does one need to allow the ground-fighting option or the inclusion of kicks and/or hidden weapons in order to bring some purifying efficacy to the training? Etc.

dmv

jss
04-18-2005, 09:11 AM
Moreover, one has to consider that attacks are rarely physical. The probability is greater that you will be attacked non-physically far more often than you will be physically assaulted. I don't see "beingassaultedbybadlanguage shihonage" as a particularly appropriate technique.

Then isn't it ironic that all aikido techniques ARE physical?
Aikido may change us so that we are not easily verbally assaulted, but still aikido does not directly teach us verbal responses to a verbal attack. So aikido does not teach us the best non-injurous response to a conflict (or to an invitation to conflict).

Ron Tisdale
04-18-2005, 09:22 AM
For example, do you move away from the abstract ballistic strikes of kihon waza training to the varied angled and timed strikes of left hook or the right cross or the uppercut on a weekly or daily basis? How often? How often does one need to allow the ground-fighting option or the inclusion of kicks and/or hidden weapons in order to bring some purifying efficacy to the training? Etc.

This is a good question, and if using your art in a contemporary setting is important to you, a very important question. I don't have anwer...but I find it interesting that some early students of aikido found it possible to translate their training in the the contemporary context of say boxing attacks...Shioda Kancho tells a story of dealing with a boxer (rather harshly in my opinion) that is good food for thought. Perhaps it is not necessary to see every attack used today before hand if the riai is properly understood.

Ron

rob_liberti
04-18-2005, 02:48 PM
How or why does training toward the gaining of a non-violent (or less injurious) technology purify our will to violence?To constantly practice “do minimal damage” under increasingly difficult situations in an increasingly effective and minimized way forces me to constantly practice reconciling self and other in a physical way – as I started describing in my last post. I think that if I constantly practice reconciling self and other in a physical way, it will slowly have a strong impact on my psychology which in turn will be invaluable in my pursuit of purifying my will to violence.

I base this opinion on my other experiences with aikido in how physical practice has helped me change on a mental/emotional level.

I can say for certain that the constant physical practice of almost endlessly taking highly reflexive, reactive, and responsive ukemi by someone like my teacher that can throw powerfully and without ego firmly tied together the idea that physical power grows with physical humility. Over time, I would say that physical practice has been more helpful to my emotional maturity and my psychology than anything else.

For one example in particular, once I was convinced that no matter how many times I was thrown to the ground I could keep getting up, I found that translated into a new sense of emotional security. I could take chances with my emotions that I had previously been unwilling/unable(?) to make because now I *knew* that no matter how hard an emotional fall I took I would be able to pick myself up again.

For a second example, to take better and better physical ukemi, I had to (try to!) completely give up my resisting with tightness so I could pay much better attention and respond/react much more quickly and efficiently to the seemingly random places my teacher would throw me. Over time, I developed some ability to pay attention to my partner so I could continually move with them (I continue to develop this one as well). I was shocked when I realized that I was also getting a sense of the nage’s “mood”. I was further shocked when I realized that this connection could be bi-directional provided both people are open to each other. I started getting a better sense of just how truly intimate this martial art is. It occurred to me that there is nowhere to hide. If I felt something negative about someone they were going to know about it. With the responsibility of teaching my own classes, I had to make some big changes on myself. I spent a lot of time trying to take ukemi from some senior aikido people I thought I might want my internal feeling to be more like. I could compare and contrast my feeling with theirs and get quite a bit of insight. I also realized that when I was taking ukemi from someone who was good at sharing that happened to be in a bad mood, I could generally get them smiling by taking their ukemi only a couple times while concentrating on my own joy of the practice.

I suppose I cannot prove any of this; I can only offer that some other people I have spoken to about this kind of thing have had similar perceptions.

My point is that such physical practice combined with intent has helped me make some big changes. I see no reason why this wouldn’t also work towards the goal of purifying the will to violence.

Can we not, as always, find ways of disregarding our ideals, no matter how virtuous they may be?I still say then when pressed, you will do what you practice. You question reminds me of “who will guard the guard?”. Of course, we find ways of disregarding our ideals. That’s why we need partners – many partners – with this kind of practice.

A will to violence is only partially born out of an ignorance to do or be otherwise, just as it is also only partially born out of a lack of effort to do or be otherwise. Hence, for me, simply supplying a kind of "wisdom" or a kind of "non-injurious technology," or simply providing a kind of meta-practical outlet for people to mundanely explore the already pre-existent social ideal of non-violence one to a few hours a week, is going to leave a lot unturned and/or unpurified.I think a will to violence is also born out of a lack of ability to do anything else. “Time in” maybe not the answer, but I think it is a good fundamental step in you ask me.

Thus, for example, it may be the case that we can acquire a skill to subdue many kinds of attacks without injury to the attacker, but will this make us more patient, more humble, more kind, less prone to hatred, less prone to anger, less prone to desire, less prone to ignorance, less prone to fear, etc.?In my opinion, considering training the way I am suggesting, I’d have to say: Yes.

So what do you do to sophisticate your training, or what does one need to do to sophisticate his/her training? Or more importantly, how often does one need to sophisticate his/her training?I don’t have all of the answers, but I think that the main thing is to stick to principle. Get people moving well enough to be able to continually increase the drama and maintain some degree of safety. I have been looking towards developing some kata for common boxing combinations like jab, cross, uppercut, etc.; and some drills to make it hard on someone trying to set ups a shoot/tackle (early in the beginning phase) like moving, and working the face; and some more difficult knife attack defenses. I’m certainly not there yet, but that is what I look towards doing. I think the main thing is to always practice the kihon waza for a large percentage of class, and move on to some of the more sophisticated things for a small percentage of each class. Hopefully, the principles in focus would be the same.

I'm just working this all out. This is my approach. I'm open to all criticism, but I'm not yet convinced that it is not going to get me where I'm trying to go. I'm unaware of a better way at present.

Rob

RonRagusa
04-18-2005, 03:22 PM
Aikido may change us so that we are not easily verbally assaulted, but still aikido does not directly teach us verbal responses to a verbal attack. So aikido does not teach us the best non-injurous response to a conflict (or to an invitation to conflict).
Joep -

I have to respectively disagree with your observation above. I have learned that Aikido principles can be applied to non-physical confrontations of all sorts. For instance, when verbally attacked I can, in my mind, tenkan. Turning, I am then able to see the conflict from the position of my assailant. This helps me to identify with his position and also allows me to release the need to defend my position at all costs. I am thus better able to judge the situation from a neutral perspective and attempt to resolve the conflict so that both parties are satisfied.

I can also enter into the attack (mental irimi). Becoming part of the attack and no longer the attacked, I am able to control the nature of the conflict and attempt to bring about a resolution by cooperating with my opponent instead of fighting with him.

These are but two examples of how Aikido can be used in non-violent confrontations. If you're interested in delving into this subject further you might want to read "Leadership Aikido" by John O'Neil, "The Magic of Conflict" by Thomas Crumm and "The New Conflict Cookbook" by Thomas Crumm, Judith Warner and Christine Steerman.

Ron

jss
04-18-2005, 04:27 PM
I have to respectively disagree with your observation above. I have learned that Aikido principles can be applied to non-physical confrontations of all sorts.

I think we do not disgaree, but that I need to express myself more clearly. :)
What I wanted to say was that although it is true aikido principles can be applied to non-physical confrontations, we only train those principles in physical confrontations. Which leads me to the question: if verbal aikido is such a good method of non-injuring self defence, why do we only train in physical aikido?

senshincenter
04-18-2005, 05:03 PM
Hi Rob,

First – great post. Thanks for the reply. I also want to say that I do not mean to be critical – and I am certainly not trying to criticize just for the sake of criticizing. In truth, I am very interested in your process. As one can tell from our own web site, we too are trying to tackle this issue. That is why, as you said earlier, we often tend to agree and/or overlap in our ideas. I think there are some parts where we diverge, and it’s those parts where I am most interested in learning “how” or “why” you are doing what you are doing – to help me reflect deeper on what it is we are doing (our own how and why). So I am very appreciative of this conversation.

You wrote:

“To constantly practice "do minimal damage" under increasingly difficult situations in an increasingly effective and minimized way forces me to constantly practice reconciling self and other in a physical way -- as I started describing in my last post. I think that if I constantly practice reconciling self and other in a physical way, it will slowly have a strong impact on my psychology which in turn will be invaluable in my pursuit of purifying my will to violence.”

I do agree that we can “bridge” between the mind and the body and/or between the body and the mind. Sometimes, we may travel from one thing to the other, or vice versa, but either way, this is possible – in large part because ultimately the distinction between the body and the mind is a false one (as you well know). Here there is much overlap between our two ways of addressing this issue. I also agree with your take on ukemi – or your understanding of how ukemi fits into this whole process.

However, I am still very curious about what “increasingly difficult situations” might actually mean in one’s Aikido training – because this is central to our own position at our own dojo. Sticking with ukemi, for example, we often progress from being allowed to lower ourselves into a fall, to being thrown into a roll, to being thrown into a breakfall, etc. When most of us use the expression of “increasingly difficult situations” in reference to ukemi, we generally mean this type of progression. If our training is somewhat intense, we often also come to mean being thrown hard, or dangerously hard, and/or being thrown “unexpectedly,” etc. Yet, when I look at most ukemi – even or especially in my own personal history – ukemi never really moves beyond that first step of being allowed to lower ourselves.

Let me explain: To be sure, things are at various points in our training just as you described them. There are times in our ukemi when for example our attachment to Self simply lends itself to poor ukemi. So at some level it would make sense that we should seek a type of reconciliation of Self or self-attachment in order to progress in our training. It would also make sense that being allowed to lower our self into a fall requires no reconciliation of self since this is all about ego-reification and/or makes use of ego-reification. In addition, it is also true that “increasingly difficult situations” can be noted by how much reconciliation of attachment to self they require. However, I would suggest that what we see in most Aikido ukemi requires only enough reconciliation of self to ensure that one can survive by continuously being attached to self. In the same way, at the level of self, that we are allowed to remain self-centered when we are allowed to lower ourselves into a fall, so too does the usual “hard,” or “intense,” or “unexpected” breakfall do the same. In particular, as we are allowed to lower ourselves into a fall in the beginning of our training, putting our body wherever our pride, ignorance, or fear “requires” it to be, so too are we allowed this same way of practicing fear, pride, or ignorance in the posting of our front foot just prior to our front breakfall.

From another angle: As I said above, when we are allowed to lower ourselves into a fall, we put our body (as we use our body) in a place that is more determined by fear, pride, or ignorance – by our attachment to self more than anything. This we often want to say, “…is what we do naturally.” Such that, in the beginning, we might out of fear fall before the throw is actually executed; or we may out of pride seek to slow or resist the throw as it is happening; or we may out of ignorance try and do a cross-lateral roll over a homo-lateral roll; etc. When we first start, all of these mistakes seem like the thing that is most natural – the least contrived. They seem this way because they are most accordant with our habitual self up until this point.

As training progresses, as we come to find a new “natural” (learned) way of moving, we start to see that our old “natural” way of moving is actually a type of enslavement – a kind of habit that is indeed based in fear, pride, and ignorance. We see that in order to learn the new “natural” way of moving we will have to, to some degree, reconcile certain aspects of our being that are related to our fears, our pride, and our ignorance. In a way, we trade one learned way of being (habitual) for another learned way of being (Aikido tradition) – or so it seems. What actually happens, in most cases, I would propose, is that we trade one type of response based in fear, pride, and ignorance, for another type of response that is also based in fear, pride, and ignorance.

Let us say that the highest reconciliation of Self required in ukemi or acquired via ukemi has to be the execution of what we can call the “pure” attack. It is that full engagement of oneself with no attachment to self, to the attack, the ensuing fall, the nage/uke distinction, the offense/defense distinction, etc. Let us also say that the most “impure” (the most lacking in the need for self-reconciliation) ukemi is the ukemi in which we are allowed to lower ourselves. What do we see at the “highest” levels of ukemi? Are we really all that far from lowering ourselves into our fall? I would say, “Not as I have seen it.” As I said earlier, even when people speak of “increasingly difficult” ukemi, we still see such things as the posting of uke’s foot – such that as when we are allowed to lower ourselves, we fall (in the front breakfall) from a state of balance – a state where we reify the ego and not reconcile it. Only we are so trained, into a new type of “natural” way of moving, a new habitual way of employing our fear, our pride, and our ignorance, that we do not recognize this state of balance as a state of balance. Through our culture, we come to recognize this as being “unbalanced” and/or irrelevant to being thrown “unexpectedly” – or we may come to think of it as a safety issue, etc. It is the same way that when we are allowed to fall we believe we are not falling in a way that is slave to our attachment to self.

We try very hard to get rid of this posted foot and this misrecognized state of balance in our own practice at our dojo for the very reasons you have mentioned – having to do with the reconciliation of self. As a dojo open to visitors, we often see great uke from elsewhere suffer all the slings and arrows of their beginner days when they are not allowed that posted foot anymore. More commonly, we see it in all of our own members as their ukemi is pressured from having the posted foot to not having the posted foot in the front breakfall. What this says to me is that no true reconciliation of self takes place up until now – that no “hard” or “unexpected” fall can do the purifying. Rather, without an actual reconciliation taking place, what happened is that one was simply cultured from one type of habitual self to another type of habitual self. One traded the lowering of oneself for the culturally acceptable way of lowering oneself (into the front breakfall via the front foot posting) – in both cases, one is quite far from “pure” ukemi, from reconciling fear, pride, or ignorance.

As I said, the same thing can be said about having “increasingly difficult attacks.” I agree, this is a necessary element when it comes to purifying our will to violence. Yet, tn most cases, in Aikido, when people speak of “increasingly difficult attacks” they are not really doing anything that would actually necessitate a reconciliation of self. They are, as with ukemi, simply trading one type of habitual (cultured) self for another more “acceptable” type of self (soon to be habitual). For example, when most Aikidoka speak of increasingly difficult attacks, in their training, they are generally referring to grabbing very hard (vs. grabbing very lightly), or they are talking about striking very quickly (as oppose to striking very lightly). Etc. There is not really a continuous progression in the sophistication of the attacks one is training with or against. There are, at most, only variations on the same Aikido curriculum or theme – which means that one’s attacks remain quite far from sophistication and thus quite far from truly needing a reconciliation of self. Seldom do you see timing changes, direction changes, set-ups, barrages, etc. One just goes from grabbing lightly to grabbing hard – for example – and as a result a nage just needs to learn that it is basically the same thing – and hence that one can act basically the same (no reconciliation of self required). Or, one simply takes things like timing changes, direction changes, set-ups, barrages, etc., and puts them inside the same basic teaching model – e.g. making forms of them (in which cases they are not really advancements or sophistications in the attacks one is training with or against). All of this is revealed when such a practitioner actually comes up against such things via their training and/or via a real life encounter. Again – we see this every time in our own members as their training “progresses,” and/or in visitors that come to our dojo for this type of training. The progress of their training – to this state – shows that progress along these lines has not occurred. Again, I would like to suggest that you read that article I posted on our web site and/or that you at least look at the third video clip – as it shows the lack of progress in self-reconciliation as the training progresses in attack sophistication (which means that “attack sophistication” of the usual kind does not at all lend itself to self-reconciliation).

Here is the link for the article and the total four clips. You will find the clips at the bottom the page (just scroll down) – I am pointing out the third clip as an example of what I see at our dojo as students come face to face with the progress and the lack of progress of and in their training. Please see “Clip Three.”

http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/vids/metsukeangleofdeflection.html

thanks again,
d

RonRagusa
04-18-2005, 08:17 PM
Which leads me to the question: if verbal aikido is such a good method of non-injuring self defence, why do we only train in physical aikido?
Good question. What you are calling verbal Aikido I am seeing as the achievement of a particular feeling of centeredness when confronted by a non-violent attack. As long as I "move" from my center, as with physical technique, I can avoid getting caught up in the emotional component of the confrontation. What makes this possible is the knowledge that if the conflict esclates to the physical plane I am able to take care of myself. This enables me to react without fear or anger. Because I hold the view that mind and body are inseparable, I believe that our physical training educates mindbody in such a way that we are able to deal with physical and non-physical attacks.

As for practical training for students looking for self-defense, my wife, Mary, has incorporated Aikido principles learned on the mat into the system of self-defense she devised and teaches in workshops and at a local college as a PE course. In addition to teaching physical techniques, she makes extensive use of role plays that teach students to employ Aikido in a non-physical way when confronting just the type of situation we are discussing here.

Ron

ruthmc
04-19-2005, 03:35 AM
Tenkan - Turning, I am then able to see the conflict from the position of my assailant.
Irimi - Becoming part of the attack and no longer the attacked, I am able to control the nature of the conflict and attempt to bring about a resolution by cooperating with my opponent instead of fighting with him.
Ron,

Thank you for posting - I have written these down to keep as they are great definitions to use as the basis for a class :)

Many thanks,

Ruth

rob_liberti
04-19-2005, 11:16 AM
David,
However, I am still very curious about what "increasingly difficult situations" might actually mean in one's Aikido training -- because this is central to our own position at our own dojo.
I checked out the page and the videos on your web site and I'd agree that you and I are both working towards more sophistocated attacks and how to deal with them. I'll comment more on that later.

If our training is somewhat intense, we often also come to mean being thrown hard, or dangerously hard, and/or being thrown "unexpectedly," etc.My experience with Gleason sensei was that I was continually thrown "unexpectedly" and he would help me manage it a bit based on my level. I'm much more tuned in to what he is doing now, and much more able to manage to protect myself while dealing with the results of comming in at him hard and fast - and I still have to laugh at how I end up getting unexpectedly unbalanced and thrown. He's generally showing me what he is doing and I still have trouble expecting the results. That kind of experience is invaluable. It is VERY difficult for me to give to my students since he is MUCH better than I am.

About "what we do naturally" in ukemi: I do always give up balance for the sake of safety and/or honesty in the context of the martial situation. I think it that is only as natural as a child deciding to avoid a hot stove the "second" time. Someone told me about how there are 3 kinds of horses. There is the horse you have to whip over and over again, there is the horse you have to whip once, and there is the horse that you merely have to show the whip to. I'd perfer to be the unwhipped horse when I take ukemi.

With the constraint of that "rule" in place, I would say that taking Gleason sensei's ukemi (or anyone like him) is the best way to develop what I want to do naturally into what I do naturally. I do not believe too much in the "artificial ukemi" approach where people do comepletely scripted things - which does go on in some classes at the aikikai hombu.

Let us say that the highest reconciliation of Self required in ukemi or acquired via ukemi has to be the execution of what we can call the "pure" attack. It is that full engagement of oneself with no attachment to self, to the attack, the ensuing fall, the nage/uke distinction, the offense/defense distinction, etc.I think that once you feel that you can protect yourself more reflexively you can start to push the "safety" envelope in a level appropriate way with your partner.

As far as the videos go, I liked what I saw. I am looking to develop something like that except I think I would want to incorporate a few other guiding rules:
-never (okay almost never) back up
-maintain your angle to keep the attacker out of 100% center vision
-actively take them in as you enter
(and as always don't play their game)

Rob

senshincenter
04-19-2005, 01:55 PM
Hi Rob,

Another great reply - thanks so much for the time and effort.

Well, as you read, it is a beginner drill - which does not necessarily mean that it is easy but rather that it is keyed toward developing some vital elements that are necessary to improving and/or progressing in one's training (i.e. without these "things" you can't move on). The things we left out - that you would want to add in - are things that we would add in later. We leave those things out now by design - and by discipline - so that things like an unfettered metsuke and/or an unfettered angle of deviation are stressed to the point of failure. At this stage, we want them to fail.

For example, by backing up more than going lateral, a practitioner puts way more strain on their capacity to deflect things and/or to see things that are coming toward you. In an actual encounter this is the very reason why you would want to deviate more and/or angle off the line of the attack more. However, in a training situation, I feel it is important to stress key elements to the point of failure. That way, those elements are more guaranteed to function when you enhance them with other redundant tactics and/or reduce the tactical stress upon them by combining them with things like movement, weapons, environment, etc. Right now, we back up and/or stay still so that we get ourselves stuck in a barrage of strikes and/or a "flurry" - then from there we see how well our tactics do - how well we have acquired the necessary martial attributes and the body/mind that supports those attributes. This is also why the training partner is restricted to strikes - no grappling, which would take advantage of the going backwards and/or the standing still.

What I found, when training is not broken up this way, when people are allowed to do "everything at once" (e.g. deflect and have complete freedom to seek the angle), is that they still tend to specialize (i.e. not develop everything they are supposed to develop). For example, a person who is not skilled at angle of deflection (e.g. blocking/parrying/checking, etc.) but is skilled at angle of deviation (e.g. clearing the line of attack/establishing an angle) will still tend to only develop one thing (i.e. the former - what they are skilled at already). By simplifying drills in this way, I have found that we can amplify the work done and the work still needing to be done - which is valuable thing to gain from any drill. That's why, we also, for example, do the same drill where we work only on angle of deviation - no angle of deflection is allowed (i.e. no blocking, no checking, no parrying). To be sure, one's training partner is also restricted in such a way that these drills are also not subverted but where the drilling practitioners tactic will ultimately fail. Etc.

Anyway, if you are heading down this direction, as always, I would love to stay in touch and see if we can maybe share insights and mistakes along the way. Best to you with your own practice.

Thanks again,
dmv

rob_liberti
04-20-2005, 08:29 AM
David,

I appreciate discussions with you as well. No one forces me to be quite as thoughtful in my reply as you. If I'm ever in the area you can be sure that I'll let you know and try to set up a visit! And the invitation is extended right back at you.

I meant not criticism on your drill. I understand that it was a beginner drill meant to show a point. I guess I like to only set my students up to fail if I know I can show them exactly what they need to change in order to succeed immediately after. That's just my opinion of how to keep the dojo feeling positive.

I am of the opinion that my worst fault as a teacher (student-teacher) is that I do not pull the rug out from under my students as often as it was done to me. I know that was very valuable trianing. My opinion on that is that I am not yet qualified to judge how to most effectively do such a thing. I am concerned that I am failing to train my students in how to deal with that common practice, but I do tell them that this is my faiuling and I think they have to accept me for my own limitations. Maybe in 20 more years, I'll start feeling more qualified to do that kind of thing.

Rob

Jeremy Young
04-28-2005, 02:11 PM
i wonder if that idea of leaving the person unharmed has to do with what "style" of aikido you are training. for example, aikido taught through the Yoshinkan is considered "hard-style". If I remember correctly it is because Gozo Shioda was studying with O'sensei in his younger years. Even O'sensei had this hard background (daito-ryu aikijujutsu??) since these were originally combat techniques. Granted, this is me speaking from the Very small amount of knowledge i have on the subject, but those are my ideas. What i like about aikido and particularly harder-styles like Yoshinkan, is that you can vary your the technique applied to fit the situation. I mean you can lower the intensity of the technique to say control the person without causing them any harm or even maim or kill say if the person is a drugged attacker coming with the purpose of killing you. Anyways, these are my scattered thoughts on the subject...hope i was easy to understand!
Jeremy Young
Tatsumaki Dojo
Springdale, AR

Bronson
04-28-2005, 04:14 PM
What i like about aikido and particularly harder-styles like Yoshinkan, is that you can vary your the technique applied to fit the situation.

We should be able to adjust our techniques to be anything from simple evasions/escapes to breaks & hardcore throws....regardless of style.

I mean you can lower the intensity of the technique to say control the person without causing them any harm or even maim or kill say if the person is a drugged attacker coming with the purpose of killing you.

I agree but it has been my experience, and the experience of the people I've trained under (others will disagree), that it is easier and more natural to ADD intentsity to baseline technique that is softer* and less prone to injuring uke than it is to SUBTRACT intensity from baseline technique that is harder* and more prone to injuring uke.

*I use softer and harder for lack of better terminology...I do not really care for those distinctions.

Bronson

Jeremy Young
05-02-2005, 09:38 AM
That is a very good point! Arigatou gozaimasu.

feck
05-04-2005, 04:02 PM
Hi,

I'm fairly new to Aikido, and yet I think that my understanding of the non-violent approach to attackers boils down to this. I would ultimately like to reach a stage in Aikido, that when confronted with violence, that my reactions would be so fast using blending that my attacker(s) would be unable to touch me and at the highest levels of training these attackers would ultimateley give up.

feck
:circle:

senshincenter
05-04-2005, 09:29 PM
I would not at all want to stifle anyone's reflections, since they will forever remain vital to one's Aikido training, but upon reading this last post, I am reminded of one thing: When I was younger, us kids all noted one day that whenever we wished or hoped for something, we often wished or hoped for something that was almost impossible to occur, YET, for some strange reason, we nevertheless had some kind of limit to what we were wishing for. While we were free to wish for anything, and though what we were wishing for was never going to occur, we always stopped ourselves from wishing to our full capacity. For example, when we were all boys of around 16, and we were talking about what kind of cars we wanted to have as our "first car," someone always managed to bring up Ferrari or Porsche, etc., and being children from poorer families, "first cars" was something that was never going to happen, period. So, one day we all realized, "Heck, why stop at Ferrari? Why not wish for the Bat Mobile or James Bond's Lotus, or a Helicopter or a Submarine?" We never had an answer for that - something about human nature I guess.

On the one hand, I wonder why wish for an Aikido so skilled that attackers would give up upon facing it - why not wish for them to reach Awakening right then and there upon looking into your eyes; why not wish for them to upon sensing your aura start a non-profit organization for children without homes and/or who are victims of parental abuse; etc. On the other hand, and in all seriousness, I wish that your wish comes true - I wish you do reach a level of skill so awesome that it alone will lead others down the path of non-violence.

dmv

feck
05-06-2005, 04:57 AM
Hi

I'm sorry if my last post seemed to cause confusion, but now I am confused. I thought that the art of awase or blending practice was to gain an advantage in a violent situation, by gaining the advantage the attacker would realise to continue would be folly.
Is it not possible to blend so fully with an attack as to completely give you the victim the upper hand in a situation? If then the attacker tries again you again blend to their rear or slide back so the force of the attack is neutralised. Yes I know this is a high idealised view of aikido, but I also thought that the key was to neutralise and/or redirect force, can this not be achieved without sensile touch?. How would a man or woman, with no arms from the shoulders down, react in a fight? , is the only option for them to ram opponents and hope for the best?.
What did our founder mean with qoutes like these; "Seeing me before him, the enemy attacks, but by that time I am already standing safely behind him" and "Left and right, avoid all cuts and parries. Seize your opponents' minds and scatter them all!" ?. Are these not ideals to strive for?

I also as a child played games where we bragged about what cars we would own or riches we would attain as all of us came from working class backgrounds, and yet a few now own ferraris and such like. And yet also as a child I can remember playing a form of close quartes tag where the person who was it would try and touch the other person to make them it. Some were so good at this they could almost never be touched.

I think that to learn every technique as a goal would not get you anywhere, apart the ability to hurt people, including yourself. By this I mean that I mind full of techniques could get in the way of just blending and avoiding, two simple ideals that can save your life.

I have been in situations where violence or the threat of violence has reared its ugly head, and in some i am sorry to say i have returned that violence with the same or even worse. Other situations I have gotten into where I have walked away, because I was afraid of hurting someone, where my abilities where always to attack back. These last situations have at times made me look foolish and severly bruised my ego, but should I resort to hurting someone just because I can. I would have much preferred to avoid there attacks without the ultimate avoidance of just walking away. Although walking away, some would say is always the best option, why should I let the attacker walk away without bruising their ego completly non violently.

I think somewhere that I read once that Ueshiba was challenged to a fight with swords that amounted to him completly avoiding the challenger and he soon gave up his futile attacks. In fact this same challenger became a student of O'sensei.

Also the stories i have read of our founder dodging bullets, are these false? If they are not then did he touch the bullet and guide its energy or completly avoid them. If these are false then are we carrying on a tradition set by a man who lied? I for one hope not.

Why is it such a high ideal to completly avoid confrontation while standing and moving completly in the middle of this chaos? Does the outcome of every fight have to resort to someone being hurt, just to boost the ego of either side? Remember a proficient Aikidoka could have the ability to complety humiliate their opponent if not kill them, should we choose either path? Would it not be better to keep giving them openings in your defence and then stand where they stood after they have moved or even just enter fully to the rear of the opponent?

Im sorry if alot of this sounds like inane babble, but that's just the way I feel.

Anyway enlightenment is a long way off, and although the road can be painful, 'god' its fun.

feck :p

senshincenter
05-06-2005, 11:16 AM
Hi Darren,

In truth, I loved this last post of yours. As I said, reflection should be a big part of one's training and if you will allow me to say, by the questions you have asked of yourself and of me, you seem capable and most willing to do this. Though my opinion should count as nothing in your training, I can say that I admire that kind of investment in one's practice. Moreover, like I said, there is a huge part of me that does hope you get your wish - that you do realize your ideal. So, I wouldn't ever want to set out to shutdown your efforts. More power to you. I also agree, to some degree historically but to a full degree personally, one should aim to train for such a level of skill - one should be oriented in a way at least similar to what you describe (whether or not one ever attains it). You are right, at least as far as I am concerned.

My comparison to a moment in my younger days comes when you wish the attacker to see the folly of his/her attempt at violence because of your great skill. That is, for me, a lot to ask of one's art and of one's skill in that art. After all, I am not so sure that violence ever happens from a place of wisdom, so I am not so sure that a realization of folly is ever going to cause it to cease. Nor does the chance for victory or the guarantee for victory ever really support all violent intentions, hence why I am not so sure that "immanent defeat" will quell all attempts at hostility. For example, using your example of a person with no arms and no legs, and pursuing these attempts at bringing reflection into our training, should we not ask, "Are you saying that amputees have no capacity for violence and/or violent urges within them simply because they do not have at their disposal the limbs that make up most of the attacks of the martial arts?" Is our capacity to fulfill violence physically and/or to fulfill violence via one particular way (i.e. fighting with our limbs) really the root of our will to harm another (physically, spiritually, emotionally)? If our answer is "no" to these questions, then why should we expect our skill in the art to turn someone away from violence? Why, instead of assuming that high skill will quell another's violence, should we not assume that high skill will just inspire someone to accept that he or she cannot defeat us unarmed and go home and get a firearm to "equalize" things a bit more? Why can't we assume that high skill has the potential to actually escalate violence? Why should we accept an inevitable connection between high technical skill and peace on Earth? Etc.

For me, the issue is not whether we should seek high or even miraculous levels of skill, the issue is over what we should expect are the inevitable results (i.e. causal relationships) of such skill. While I wish you get your wish, I remain skeptical of connecting high skill in any sort of causal way with quelling the will to violence in someone else. For me, the best way of quelling another's violence, such that one can speak of inevitable relationships or at least of plausible relationships, is never going to include fighting them. If you want to reduce violence in the world, as we know, we must begin with ourselves. From there or in there, we cultivate the virtues necessary to serve others at the level of the spirit and at the level of the heart/mind - where diseases that support violence are born and can actually be purified out through our daily work, our daily support, and our daily commitment to others in possession of such diseases. For me, therein lies the true victory over violence, and I wonder how much of that victory can be ours when we feel that we can achieve such things simply be easily defeating another in combat and/or by making combative victory against us impossible.

No doubt, there are those times when the realization of defeat and/or the impossibility of victory play a part in the reduction of one's violent intentions. However, is this causal or is this like the fox that waits at the tree for another rabbit to run into it? Were there other factors present that are the real catalyst for why skill level obtained such potency? Things like, "not really wanting to commit violence," "just wanting to not lose face," "only felt like 'scapping'," - are these the things that possibly made skill level relevant to peace? I feel these things have to be asked, and other things like them, if one is going to take seriously the position of skill level being related to quelling violence in others.

Take this example: A fellow instructor's student just had an altercation. It happened in front of his house – a few days after he moved in, into what is considered a relatively nice neighborhood. The altercation was with his neighbor. The deshi being trained in and being proficient in all ranges of combat, etc., easily handled the situation martially - such that violence did not escalate and did cease eventually at a constant and relatively non-violent level in anticipation of police showing up. This happened though the aggressor had at least 50 pounds on the student and had stated and shown himself to be skilled in street tactics. (The student probably weighs about 220 lbs or 250 lbs.)

What has happened since then? As it turns out, the person he was “fighting” is a convicted serial rapist and a criminal set for life imprisonment (due to violent crimes), should he again come up against California’s “three strikes” law. The man, as well as the rest of his family, has continued to confront the student (even when his family is present – wife and new baby girl of one year old) with attempts at violence at various places (at home in the front yard, at gas station on the corner, etc.). The student is now in constant fear of retaliation or at least of attempts at further violence that if are not aimed at him are aimed at those more vulnerable than he (i.e. his family). Today, he is fearful for his elderly parents that live at the home with him, and now he even opts to take his wife and baby to work with him (rather than leaving them home). As for his martial art skill level, training time now is greatly reduced since he would rather be home with his family that be at the dojo when it is night. Etc.

Why is this happening? That’s the question. Again, for me, anyone that is going to take seriously the question of how “impossible victory” will work to quell another’s violence is also going to take seriously the question of how it may only inspire it more. Somewhere in there middle of all that, should one find their answer, such things can stop seeming like (poor) boyhood wishes for high performance cars (referencing my comparison again).

So I say "go for it!" Do it - do it for all of us. Long way off or not, continue to aim for your own enlightenment. We will all be the better for it. And, I for one, am thankful for your reflections and for the efforts that are supporting those efforts and that will follow from those efforts.

Peace be with you,
david