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Old 07-15-2002, 03:29 PM   #10
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
Location: Baltimore
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 586

I really like Evan Sobel's metaphor of the child. I think it captures something about AiKiDo much more than what I'm about to say.

It seems like two different things are being confused here. They are both 'aikdio cliches,' but they highlight different aspects of the way a lot of people (that I've met) think about the art.

The first is the 'if I was attacked / mugged / whatever, I would run away if I could.' When I say this, I mean to expresses a lack of confidence in my ability to fight effectively, despite my years of experience in AiKiDo. I feel that this lack of confidence is healthy and does not imply fear. Since I haven't been in a fight since I was 13, I really don't know how effective I would be. More than that, I'm not very curious. If I succeed in living my whole life without ever finding out if AiKiDo 'really works,' I will count myself lucky and (ironically) take it as evidence that AiKiDo really works in the important ways that I would like it to.

The second thing is more like 'it is good AiKiDo to manage a situation so that it can be resolved without violence.' Often, when I think of this statement, I remind myself that a lot of effective AiKiDo involves letting go of things that I am holding on to out of habit (the tension in my shoulders, my death grip on uke's wrist, or, in this case, a certain amount of stupid pride) in order to increase my options. If defusing conflict was easy or even easily learned, then we would not need a whole art to help us figure out how to do it. So, when I think of this second statement, I imagine that my years of AiKiDo training are meant, paradoxically, to help me see and understand ways that I may be able to manage without 'using' AiKiDo.

Of course, sometimes I fail to defuse conflicts and the price is that I experience the unpleasant sensation of finding out whether it's me or the other person who is stronger. This is, in my mind, always a failure of my AiKiDo, just like every time I use force to throw down an uke it is a failure of my AiKiDo. However, this doesn't make me a bad aikidoka. It's just part of realizing that I still have a lot to learn.

Thus, if I end up in a fight, and I end up 'using' my AiKiDo, it would be nice if the AiKiDo actually 'works.' It would also be nice if I learn from it how, next time, I could handle the situation in a way that would avoid the fight.

Yours in Aiki
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