Well now, Aiki Principles aside, this brings up a very good point. When I was taught Ken by my Aikido teacher there was no mincing about. It was clear what was going down. The Ken cut down a man . . . period. As we trained and got better it was clear what was going on as well, a man got better at enabling the Ken to cut down a man . . . period. It was technically true, pure, efficient and beautiful. At the same time it was cold, heartless, merciless and raw. The human implication was clear. And with this sincere practice one realized the very real implications for all involved, the likelihood of death for either parties and the reality of psychological trauma for both parties and their survivors. One was not excused to create some romantic fantasy about what was happening. What was happening was ugly and would have lasting implications far beyond the comprehension of participants. Here, paradoxically, is the redemptive value of such practice. At some point one must either, a) realistically face the consequences of one's decisions and actions and accept them as unavoidably necessary to achieve some purpose deemed higher or more important than the consequences of what would inevitably take place, or to avoid an even greater disaster (this requires courage to do in actuality, not a gung-ho "they told me to" attitude or blissful ignorance) or, b) work tirelessly to "win without fighting" by creating the circumstances such that such an eventuality is avoided in the first place without compromising the "greater good," or c) face the fact that one is a coward and chooses to bury their head in fantasy, ignorance and/or delusion and simply choose to pretend to be ignorant of the consequences of such a choice.
How delusional is it to swing a stick pretending it is a sword, bringing it into "play" against another human, and pretend in doing so one is practicing the "Art of Peace?" Following that logic it seems reasonable to give our children nuclear detonator keys, have them practice releasing warheads to incinerate millions, and call THAT the Art of Peace, thinking that the "blending of the key with the lock" would somehow instill in them a sense of harmony.
No! I think it is important to bravely face the consequences of our individual and collective decisions. Preferably it would be important to do this BEFORE actions are taken so that actions are taken in a thoughtful manner, but certainly it is important to do so after they are . . . or we are destined to plow into the now ignorantly and irresponsibly.
O sensei called for courage and valor along with truth, goodness and beauty. I believe he knew that courage and valor are essential qualities necessary for those that pursue the truth, goodness and beauty that are the qualities of peace.
So true! Very good point.
I haven't been training in koryu for long enough to understand how it interacts with my Aikido training. I may be remiss in generalizing to all koryu training the things i experience at the beginner level in mine.
However, there is something really fascinating about how you start training koryu and its like "today's topic: how to cut a man open and watch him die."
None of this "we're going to become one with our partner and end the conflict without fighting," or "let's develop martially effective technique that aligns the heavens and the earth." These are the kind of ideas that attracted me to Aikido in the first place, and I am committed to them, but the thing is, they are daunting. I am not sure i am going to ever really know how to do these things, see the forest for the trees, recognize that I am touching an elephant, etc.
But with koryu, you find a good teacher and trust the process. You don't start out picking up a piece of wood, being told that you are supposed to consider it to be a live blade, and now you are going to work out how to win without fighting. it starts with learning how to walk up to somebody and end his life. After awhile you learn how to end conflicts before they start etc but that's where they all seem to begin.
Should we approach aikiken training with this spirit at the beginning? I think the answer should be yes, but some people can't handle it. Their eyes get real big and you can see them going "perhaps I should change my schedule so I can stay late at the dojo on open mat night instead of weapons night."