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Old 06-22-2009, 07:11 PM   #15
Dojo: Aikikai de l'Université Laval
Location: Sainte-Catherine-de-la-J.-C., Québec
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 292
Re: The Challenge of Not Competing

You can't "change aspects of Darwinism". Darwin's theory, in a an updated and much more thorough form, is at the heart of nearly all biology. But Darwin's theories have very little to do with social Darwinism, this idea that only the strong should survive and that head to head competition is at the heart of survival.

Evolutionary theory can and does allow for, and in fact can explain, much about how and why cooperative and other social or "selfless" behaviours come about. Humans are social creatures and cooperation of various types is just as central to our biological meakeup as is competittive behavior. We often want to place our selflessness as some kind of proof that we are better than our "base instincts", yet the universal placement of selfless behaviour as a virtue in just about all human cultures tends to indicate that this is one of our base instincts. Thus is not so surprising as we have been social for a lot longer than we have been human (the fact that all our closest primate relatives are social shows that this trait goes back very far to, at the very minimum, an early primate ancestor from which all monkeys and apes are decended. For the uneducated, we are apes, chimps are more closely related to us than they are to gorillas, for example.

So, what of aikido? Competition is a fact of life, but so is the need for a human to get along with others and to find ways to connect to those others. I have nothing against the competitive martial arts, and if one trains with fighting or combat in mind, competitive training is probably beneficial. But competition would be counter-productive to my aikido training and the absence of competition in the training is an important reason I train in aikido rather than something else. Maintaining the martial aspect of the art while simultaneously building a connection with the other and avoiding becoming aggressive is what I am aiming for. Competition, or any kind of fighting (whether, fair, good natured or not) would get in the way of that.

While I have never trained in a competitive martial art, I have competed in many sports. The competitive mindset is very different from that which I am trying to develop through aikido.

Jonathan Olson
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