View Single Post
Old 04-13-2005, 01:38 PM   #64
senshincenter's Avatar
Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,471
Re: causing no (serious) harm

Joep Schuurkes wrote:
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?


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.

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
  Reply With Quote