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Old 04-13-2006, 04:08 PM   #23
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,616
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

James Kelly wrote:
A little something on the language of aikido:
It's a pet peeve of mine, and it happens all over the place not just in aikido, but it seems to me that the practice of using the etymology of words to find their true, somehow hidden meaning is unsound.
The opposite tendency is more troubling to me -- the Humpty Dumpty approach -- ""When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less." This is the egocentric tendency that I find concerning in the notion of "self defense" versus "martial art."
I find fault with another tendency also -- to simply follow common usage without critical thought about how we use and relate concepts with the words we use. It is blinkered to disregard common usage, but it is also a healthy corrective to understand a word in its origin, evolution and relationship to other concepts. That is my purpose, not mere label-swapping.
James Kelly wrote:
‘martial art', ... it's an arbitrary category. Sure, an ‘art of war' is about killing and destroying, but labeling aikido as a martial art doesn't mean that it is in fact an art of war.... It's an accident of English that ‘martial art' is applied to aikido.
It is no accident, but entirely accurate. "Bu-do" is the "way of war." "Aikido " was earlier called "Aiki-budo" by O-Sensei.
James Kelly wrote:
In Etruscan times, Mars was the god of springtime, and growth.
Called Maris. Not that the Etruscans were flower-children. The Roman religious rites we know as gladiatorial games have their origins in Etruscan funerary combat rituals honoring the dead. The Quirinalis in mid-February honored deceased ancestors and Mars Quirinus. Mars Quirinus,one of the three chief gods of the Roman State (Mars of "men assembled"-- from co-viris), and the rebirth of Spring. Spring, as it happens, is also the traditional time for gathering men to start wars, and to prepare for defense against them.

The most reverently worshipped god in the Roman pantheon is Vesta, goddess of the hearth and family, whose sacred fire was renewed directly following the Quirinalis on March 1. Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome are reputedly the children of a Vestal virgin raped by Mars. Deep mythology here.

Why then was Mars was a deeply revered god in Rome? Not because they were particularly brutal by nature (relative to those peoples around them), but because they were conscious of being the children of the rape of war. They deeply desired to protect their home from such invasion (see the consequences of 387 B.C.). "Vae Victis!" became a Roman watch-word only because it was first directed at them.
James Kelly wrote:
It's still a valid discussion to debate whether aikido is self-defense (which, as someone already pointed out, doesn't require and may preclude the destruction of others) or something else, but I don't think using the term ‘martial art' as evidence of the destructive nature of aikido holds up.
The point is whether "martial" arts are about defense of self -- or about defense of something more important than self. Tyrants and mercenaries may go to war for themselves; common men-at-arms typically do not. They go to war and likely death to save hearth and home. THAT is what "martial" arts are about -- in fact and in spirit.

O-Sensei's genius was to recognize that men will only go so far out of anger, greed or lust of power, but will go vastly further beyond that in a spirit of loving protection, stopping, if at all, only in their own deaths.
Cultivating that spirit in a technical art that brings even our enemy within that loving protection in a concrete way is leap of imagination or inspiration that generations will yet thank O-Sensei for developing and transmitting, if we but maintain it and the spirit in which in originated.
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
aikido is simply a methodolgy ...not primarily a system of self defense or martial skill, but a methodolgy for developing your mind, body, and spirit. An allegory so to speak that teaches us about ourselves and our interaction/interdependence with others.
If it was about martial effectiveness, or self is a poor and inefficient method for acheiving this goal. Money would be better spent on modern weapons training, and/or risk reduction training in our world today!
Aikido, I believe, is simply a methodology for self realization and discovery! nothing more than that really!
Nineteen men in groups of four or five, armed with nothing more than box cutters -- a blade less than an inch and half in length -- inside of four hours from setting out -- killed three thousand people, stopped the commerce of a nation of 300 million people in its tracks and unleashed war in two other nations on the other side of the globe.

Will matters more than weapons.

Aikido cultivates that martial spirit, in a way directly antithetical to the spirit displayed on that day. Our art cannot be more relevant.

Erick Mead

Last edited by Erick Mead : 04-13-2006 at 04:20 PM.
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