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Just some thoughts I wrote in my notebook yesterday:
In Aikido, one's weapons and defenses include not only one's own hands and/or the weapons they hold, but also other people.
When I wrote those words, I was thinking about SUKI and the idea that one must work hard to develop one's skills to the point of not having any suki at all.
The first time I read about this I felt that while this was understandable in a martial context, it was bordering on paranoid and obsessive-compulsive in the context of daily life. But then I thought that maybe I didn't understand what it meant not to have suki at all.
Consider our Aikido stance. It's just standing naturally on both feet, with one foot forward and both hands in front of the hara. When I started training in Aikido I was really skeptical of this stance. I kept thinking, "Isn't this too wide open? I'm really vulnerable to an attack if I stand this way." I came to Aikido with a background in Taekwondo, and while I admittedly sucked at it, I at least learned that not having my hands up usually meant a roundhouse kick to the face. Aikido's stance simply didn't make sense to me.
And yet after a few years, I have learned that I can easily move in this stance. From this natural, non-combative posture, it's so easy to tenkan, irimi, and apply technique - all this while being relaxed. And what's more, this is a very non-threatening posture, which means that in a potentially violent situation I have a far better chance of de-escalating things when standing like this as opposed to my old fighting stance. I mean come on, if I stood in a Taekwondo stance and told you I didn't want to fight would you believe me?
In relating this to my daily life: Not having suki doesn't mean taking on an attitude of distrust and suspicion, maintaining an emotional distance and putting up a wall between me and you. Because in doing so, in being so obsessively defensive, I end up alone and more vulnerable than I'd be if I were surrounded by friends and loved ones.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not advocating being dependent on others - if that were the case then I wouldn't need to train in the dojo. It's just that there is no such thing as being absolutely independent. As a species, we are interdependent social beings, and to train ourselves to be so tough that we no longer need others is unnatural and detrimental to us. In being open and available to other people, we become stronger and less vulnerable.
But if one includes everyone and excludes no one, what or who is there to defend against?