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AikiWeb System 11-02-2003 12:01 AM

AikiWeb Poll for the week of November 2, 2003:

Do you think aikido is pacifistic?
  • I don't do aikido
  • Yes
  • No
Here are the current results.

SeiserL 11-02-2003 08:22 AM

IMHO, Aikido can be seen as a nonviolent activist position to pacifism if by pacifism one means simply the position of opposing war and violence or a refusal to engage in a military activity because of one's beliefs or principles.

The philosophy is pacifists, but the application is activist. Aikido does not simply stand there and take an attack or simply comply with an attack. The attack doesn't win. Aikido teaches to overcome ones self and in so doing over comes others by how we handle their attack. But, thier attack must be handled and neutralized for them to also realize the error of their way.

Too often pacifism is the position of victims who are afraid to stand up and fight. There is a time to remember the Budo roots and that Aikido is still a martial art and actually initiate and engage those attacking as we often do in Randori.

Enough of the soapbox for this old veteran.

Bryant Pierpont 11-03-2003 05:42 AM

I agree. Aikido seeks to minimize violence but does not require or encourage the person being attacked to "just stand there". Probably badly misquoting Saotome-sensei, he wrote that allowing either the attacker or the person attacked to suffer injury creates the same bad karma.


alan_stone 11-03-2003 05:22 PM

I can see how many believe that Aikido is pacifistic, however, I think it is all in your perspective. I agree that if you only consider that we focus on no injury and non-violence to the attacker, then I would agree. Even when reading OSensei's teaching, at first glance many might come up with the same conclusion.

I think if you really and earnestly contemplate the teaching of OSensei, you will uncover the truth and will realize that the art he has passed down to us all is the most violent and active of all the martial arts. Becoming one with our attacker actually places us in the ultimate and most deadly position of all. We are focused on ridding the world of hatred and violence, and when we enter into the attack, our counter is swift and cuts like the sword deep into the hearts of our attackers. Is our aim to hurt or kill the actual attacker? No, not at all. Is our intent to kill the evil with which the attack was committed? Absolutely. For example, in many arts once a take down is complete the defender usually continues with some blow that either knocks out the opponent or may even kill them. Negative energy will breed more negative energy. Through the techniques of restraints and holds (positive energy) we are striking at the evil within the attack and not the attacker.

I've went on too long. I would say we're not pacifists, but extreme activists. When we come to the realization that we enter into the attack to purge/kill the evil intent and not the opponent, we will have accomplished what I believe OSensei was imparting to us all.


Roger C. Marks 11-04-2003 03:24 AM

Perhaps we may confuse passivity with pacifism (I'm not certain that there is a word pasifistic so I do not quite understand the question)- this could be another example of people divided by the same language. Assuming that 'pacifistic' means with peaceful intent, I voted yes. There seems to be no doubt that Osensei preached and lived for peace but it is also evident that aikido was never intended to be passive - its surely all about going with the flow or even creating the flow with elements of distraction and confrontational techniques that are certainly dynamic.

Maria Isabel Martins 11-04-2003 02:32 PM

"Beware of the man who does not return your blow: he neither forgives you nor allows you to forgive yourself" - Bernard Shaw

Sometimes pacifism is knowing when one ought to fight - and for that one needs the calm mind and the interior and exterior balance one can achieve by the correct practice of Aikido

BLangille 11-08-2003 11:42 AM

Im not surprised that the response to this poll is close to 50/50. I think finding harmony by training to fight is a contradiction. Maybe it is that very contradiction that makes Aikido so fanscinating.

pbaehr 11-23-2003 03:42 PM

I think the deciding factor is whether you primarily practice aikido as a philosophy or a martial art. If you fall into the latter category then it seems ridiculous to liken aikido to pacifism as the very definition of the word is an opposition to war or violence as a means of resolving disputes. If you're a member of the camp that believes every fight has two losers than YOU may be a pacifist, however, in my opinion, aikido (or any martial art for that matter) by very definition is not pacifism. Ghandi was a pacifist. Jesus was a pacifist. OSensei doesn't fit the title as I see it.

Well, that's my two cents, anyway. Also the first two cents I've posted since I finally registered a username.

siwilson 11-23-2003 04:15 PM

No - If you mean "pacifistic" as "Refusal to use violence"!!!!!

Yes - if you mean "pacifistic" as "The choice to limit the amount of violence used to that NEEDED, and not more"!!!!!

Aikido is responding in the way NEEDED, WITHOUT excessive reaction!

:ai: Boo Ya Kasha!!!! :)

Bronson 11-24-2003 11:39 PM

See below.


BC 11-26-2003 08:57 AM

Definition under the Merriam-Webster dictionary:


Main Entry: pac·i·fism

Pronunciation: 'pa-s&-"fi-z&m

Function: noun

Etymology: French pacifisme, from pacifique pacific

Date: 1902

1 : opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes; specifically : refusal to bear arms on moral or religious grounds

2 : an attitude or policy of nonresistance


I would say under definition #1, aikido does not qualify as "pacifistic."

Under definition #2, I think it actually might qualify.

My own opinion is that aikido does not fall under the category of pacifism. I think it would be hard to label it with a one word description, other than calling it budo. I'm just not able to think of any comparable English word for it. Just my two cents.

mj 11-26-2003 10:42 AM

Different people will answer as they see their own Aikido, obviously.

For my part, my Aikdo is (terrible but) pacifist, in that I will always use 'less' violence.

I do not consider conflict situations as opportunities for violence.

However, if my 'opponent' thinks that I am a pacifist and seeks to utilise that against me, tough luck on him.

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