Re: causing no (serious) harm
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."
"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.
Last edited by rob_liberti : 04-12-2005 at 02:36 PM.