Re: The Challenge of Not Competing
1. Competition is part of all things. The will to live is a competitive drive. I once heard a shihan say, "Life is [a] competition; we don't want to die." Everyday we do things that directly compete with others. We cut someone off in traffic on the way to work. We finish a report and give it to the boss first [in hopes] to recieve a reward (raise). We put our kids in the best school we can so they learn in a better environment that other children. When those children drive, we put them in the safest vehicle we can find so they might survive an accident. We watch sports teams compete for recognition, we listen to politicians compete for our vote, we read magazines which compare products against eachother. We live for competition.
2. Competition is a natural barometer for assessing your [relative] ability to succeed. When we compete against others, we naturally develop a hierachy within that competitive pool which predominates our actions. For example, if I play baseball better than 9 other kids in a pick-up ballgame, what kinds of predominating circumstances will arise? A. Those nine kids will prefer to play on the same team on which I play. B. Those kids will likely let me play the position of my choosing and bat in the order of my choosing. I will also likely play a greater part of the ball game.
These are just some of the likely circumstances under which my skill level affects a baseball game. Just imagine what kind of knowledge you can gain from correctly assessing your skill against others in aikido... or life. I believe healthy competition tells us things which we may use to better act in a situation.
3. We [aikido people] tend to perceive competition as a negative concept and we strive to remove competition from everything in aikido. But then we compete in life. How can I live aikido if on one hand I try to remove competition from aikido whilest keeping competition in my life? I believe that competition is neither positive nor negative; we choose that perception. I seek to use knowledge I gain from competition to make better and more informed decisions in my life. I compete in aikido to test my knowledge and my skills and improve my aikido, I compete in life to test and improve my ability to protect myself and my family and give my family the best chance to live healthy, happy, and successful lives.