Dojo: Aikido of Northern Virginia
Location: Stuttgart, Baden Wurttemberg
Join Date: Jul 2002
Re: real world aikido
I like what Jon said concerning the fishing analogy.
Ledyard Sensei is dead on, of course, IMO.
I have spent my whole adult life in the military, first picking up the pieces after the fight as a medic, now as an infantry officer. I have employed, used, or trained on just about every weapon system from guided missles to empty hand.
It really does not take much skill or too many years to learn how to master the tools to hurt or to kill. I teach Army Combatives, and in a few weeks, I can get across the basic skills necessary to teach soldiers how to close distance and fight.
Shooting, kicking, hitting, biting, stabbing etc are low skill things really when you think about it! Sure some are better than others at it, but it does not take years to train, and you know what...at some point there is always someone waiting around the corner that is better at it than you, based on age, speed, strength, luck, alertness...whatever.
Harder is mastering the skills of strategy. that is, being able understand the enemy, posturing and positioning yourself, minimizing exposures, the art of negotiation, leading, motivating etc.
These things take much greater skill and time to master. In the military we have field grade and general officers to do this. These people have many years of training and hopefully wisdom to make the decisions that put us in an advantageous position.
Even more challenging, I think, in the art of peace. That is, something that we as a world struggle with. How do we develop the skills necessary to "do no harm, yet stop harm"?
How do we make ourselves strong enough to not be a victim, yet compassionate enough to understand the other side, and influence things in such a way that we do not have to result a win/lose mentality?
I am not sure that aikido will always produce this as an outcome. Most certainly it is an active form of practice in which we can remind ourselves as we face conflict daily, that we indeed have other options. that it is possible to deal with conflict in ways that are more skillfull than meeting force and might with force and might!
Does aikido produce effective fighters? IMO and personal experiences no it does not. As Ledyard Sensei most succinctly put it, that is not the goal of aikido. At least not the goal that has been communicated to me by my teachers.
As Jon Reading states, while it is a part of the martial spectrum, it does not address all aspects of fighting. If this is your goal, then you must bait the hook, put the pole in the water, and then unhook the fish!
Using that analogy, most people that view martial arts as a part of their job are concerned with the baiting the hook...and fishing up until the pull the fish out of the water....that is when the physical fight ends.
Aikido, in this analogy, is concerned at the point the fish is in the boat, how you get it off the hook, and how you deal with it at that point on. It considers the spectrum that happens after the physical, that is the after effects of physical conflict.
It is interesting to me that the philosophies and teaching of Jesus, Buddha, and O Sensei have on thing in common. They all provide a way to transformation that says that you don't have to go through the same things we went through to get there. They all share a message of transformation, yet for whatever reason, most of us find it difficult to accept and follow, even though we might consciously feel that we believe them.
So we flounder along on the same path, making the same mistakes, dealing with the same failures, frustrations, and all that! Then maybe, years later, we go "you know, i could have been here years ago if I'd just did what i was told to do from the start!"
I do agree that for many, (myself included) that we must discover the lessons for ourselves. Each person has their own path and their own experiences and needs along the way. Some can practice only aikido and achieve the desired results. Others might take on more ascetic practices such as say..the Dog Brothers, yet others may find it in meditation, zen, Christianity, vegetarianism...or a combination of all that.
Even if it is the case, that does not mean that the intent of O sensei and his message is any less effective or relevant in pursuit of peace or happiness.