Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Re: Relating Aikido and Christianity
C.S. Lewis said it best : "Lunatic, Liar or Lord?"
I am not talking about salvation nor of its requirements, nor stating that aikido is a way to heaven or that any other belief is such. I am orthodox in my beliefs in this regard, and can teach nothing to the contrary. However, it is practice and its understanding we are discussing, for Aikido is nothing if not practice.
I am talking about actions taken in this world, their consequences, and and the giifts of the Spirit that are revealed in practice. Those GIfts are are not exclusive to Christians. If they were then seeds of the Word in other cultures could not awaken the truth of the Gospel wherever it is preached.
Paul preached to the Athenians through the image of the "unknown God" whose statue stood at the gates of the city. If I am to witness, I must be as flexible in my selection of medium as Paul was. It is the reality of Christ that matters, not the language (or other more concrete expression) used to point to Him.
Aikido, on the other hand ... well, one good iriminage finished to a tanto-dori pin will generally get the point across in a more direct manner.
I daresay Saul of Tarsus was intellectually well-versed in the teachings of the Jewish heretics he was busy rounding up and dispatching. That teaching of words and names did not reach him. A good smack up side the head, knocking him off his ass (as in donkey) and blinding him, did seem to get his attention.
Among the traditional seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, fortitude and wisdom, non-verbal understanding and knowledge are among those most nobly displayed in good aikido practice. Counsel, piety and fear of the Lord I leave for your own consideration. Some are called to teach, some are called to labor, and some are called to find conflict and spread peace. (As for me, I hope I am called to dinner.)
When asked directly who He was Jesus usually redirected the question "Who do you say that I am?" When a wannabe disciple asked him "Where do you dwell?" He said "Come, and see ..." His truth is not a truth to grasped merely by being told, it must be experienced and found as the treasure hidden in the field. This only comes by grace, but we must be prepared to receive it.
If I am to imitate Christ, here and now, I must be as careful with the power of names and words as He was. Jesus was careful not to employ names when their meaning was liable to be misunderstood by those hearing him. The doctrine of parables exists for this reason. Matt. 13:10-13, 34-35.
Jesus was very careful not to allow the omote and the ura aspects of His message to become confused in the minds of those He taught. Many Aikidoka at early stages have this problem in their training. They enter to apply a technique that is neither omote nor ura but parts of both. They only learn the difference when the follow-up strike is delivered to point out the open line of attack.
Omote and ura are equally true as technique, and neither is complete alone. Appropriate technique does not exist in isolation from an attacker (uke) whom we as nage (thrower) do not control. To know, I must do; to express my belief, I must act and I must willing suffer being acted upon.
This is the point of Paul in Ephesians 4:11-16 when speaking of the gifts of the Spirit in their practical consequence, in their role as a teaching of the body (physical and mystical), and alerting us to the dangers of nominal language as a sole guide to truth:
"And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;
so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love."
G.R. Erick Mead