Reconciliation of Violent Action
I've been mulling this over for a little while now, probably on and off since I used to practice Aikido as a younger man (I'm back on the pony again and as fresh as a babe these days) and it's still something that I come back to and that I can't quite make click.
How does a student of Aikido reconcile the generally peaceful theme of it's philosophies with the undeniably brutal nature of it's movements as a martial art...?
This is difficult for me. I'm no spring chicken and I've been around the block, without sounding too smug I feel that I've got a pretty good grasp of the usefulness of Aikido movements as they'd approach applicability in a fight. What Aikido does well, it does *very well* and where there are holes in general they aren't too hard to fill.
(now unpurse those lips, that's not meant as an attack on the style but if you're objective there ARE some obvious weak spots)
When I see Aikido being practiced the first thing I notice is that most of the applications have been made 'soft' without actually 'nerfing' them. Flowing is a focus, preemptive control, blending with force and blah blah blah... all so that we can throw or pin our opponent in such a way as to minimize the immediate damage that we do to them in the process. Never do I hear "twist this and it'll break, roll the newly splintered limb up to make a handle, yank them off balance with it and then plant the dumb moron into the floor".
Which is good.
But I do hear, "Sensei, what happens if uke doesn't follow the technique? What happens if they resist? It's all fine and dandy to help one another learn by cooperating in the dojo but what about the outside world?".
There is a pause followed by a long low sigh.
And then a response usually comes along which typically goes something like this, "Well. Honestly the only really safe way to accept these movements is to follow along with them, if things are done rapidly and with conviction uke is going to get badly hurt by trying to struggle".
Which is where the problem comes in. Because with this the responsibility for an injury no longer rests upon your shoulders but rather with your attacker who has continued the aggression rather than realize he's in deep poop and instead for his/her own personal safety go along with being redirected securely to the ground. And let's be clear here, it is utterly and absolutely unrealistic to expect that anyone not specifically trained in Aikido (or possibly something damn similar) is ever going to give you the proper ukemi to avoid be dramatically hurt by a well executed Aikido technique.
So that means if you succeed, they get hurt, and there's nothing gentle about it in the end.
Some folks are going to say who cares...? They attacked you right...? Karma, or whatever, anyway they got what was coming to them. And from a purely 'martial' standpoint it's a fair evaluation, though it's not a very good 'Aikido' evaluation if you ask me. This reduces our art to essentially functioning as if it was any other, hurt them more than they hurt you until the conflict is over, and I think we're supposed to get more out of it all than that.
By defending ourselves we assume a responsibility for the results of our defense. Nobody can force you to take an action, as an absolute it's yours. Aikido is theoretically non-violent and it should be this through conscious choice and not simply the judicious use of self-delusion by it's students.
I'm just having a hard time getting it all to work in my head. I *like* the real world practicality that underlies Aikido, I wouldn't bother with a martial art that didn't have an honest martial application... but the peaceful philosophy behind this system has always thrown me for a loop.
If you've got any insight to toss into the mix, I'd love to hear it. Other than that I'm off to the grocery store to buy much needed sundries.
Talk to you all soon,
Last edited by Mike_SMD : 08-17-2007 at 04:41 PM.