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Old 01-08-2010, 10:45 AM   #40
Nicholas Eschenbruch
Dojo: TV Denzlingen
Location: Freiburg
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 323
Re: Martial Ineffectiveness

George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post

Aikido is an art that is fundamentally about the study of connection. For various reasons it has attracted a group of practitioners who are actually terrified of really connecting. So the fear-based high testosterone boys tend to turn their practice into some kind of martial competition, attempting to cover over their fear with aggression. Folks with less physical prowess tend to go other direction and suck the life out of the practice energetically. Then the two groups snipe at each other over the fact that the other didn't understand O-Sensei's Aikido at all.

In fact, I do not think that either of these groups is doing Aikido as the Founder intended it to be. If ones practice isn't making one less fearful in a substantial way, it cannot be said to have anything to do with the "Art of Peace". Practicing to get strong enough to defeat all enemies isn't really dealing with what makes one fearful. Nor does hanging out with a bunch of like minded folks and enforcing an atmosphere of harmonious cooperation at the dojo. When the practice is designed to make everyone comfortable, it isn't designed to be transformative (except to the most damaged amongst us who may need that to train at all).

Aikido should make us more sensitive but less reactive. It should teach us to have another response to being attacked, physically or emotionally, than to attack back. It should impart confidence without arrogance. It should allow one to interact with ones fellows in a way that doesn't require that they change to fit your insecurities. If it has anything to do with conflict resolution, there needs to be some conflict in the practice so that one can practice resolving it.

All of this start with being honest on the mat. The term for this is "makoto" often translated as sincerity. Insincere attacks, insincere ukemi, will not yield anything of great value. While most people would say that not being fearful is a good thing, I think that most have no actual notion of just how powerful a person is who is no longer operating out of fear. Aikido practice is about discovering this for oneself. Unfortunately it falls short a lot of the time. But that is the fault if the practitioners, not the art itself.
Thank you very much once again, George Sensei. Your writing often helps me clarify my own thoughts on aikido in really important ways. Best for your life and training

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