George S. Ledyard wrote:
Conflict for these people comes with raising a teen, dealing with an irascible boss, coping with being laid off, getting divorced, etc. They train to help them handle their lives better. They love the complexity of the art because they are all extremely smart, well educated people, and they find it really interesting. They love the practice because the focus on mental and physical relaxation and maintaining a calm but strong focus in the midst of chaotic is exactly what they need to perform in their demanding careers every day.
That sounded familiar...
Our dojo website says: (freely, and quickly, translated from Dutch, any Dutch people can read the original at www. jikishinkan.org): "Aikido offers men and women a chance to develop physically and mentally in their way of dealing with conflict. You learn to react in a calm and relaxed way to an attack. You learn to stay physically and mentally in balance and open to what is coming at you, without freezing or becoming fearful. You don't need muscular power for this, but the development of inner strenght and courage to meet someone who wants to attack you. Aikido means something like "the way of harmony". It's aim is stopping or neutralizing aggression."
Now if I read this quickly I can see how someone might
read "self defense" into the description, but judging by the people we tend to get I don't think most people do. Our dojo crowd is very similar to what Ledyard sensei describes. Plus we tend to always have quite a lot of women.
What can you get from aikido, that you can't get from playing racketball with a friend?
I'd hate to have to play racketball to get the benefits I get from aikido.
If you see my point?