Re: Violence and Aikido
I agree with the idea that Aikido is non-violent and that violence can not be true aikido.
Central to Osensei's message is the concept in his quote "Aiki is not a technique to fight or defeat an enemy. It is the way to reconcile the world and make human beings one family."
The tendency to use physical aikido principles in furtherance of self-defense is coming from a fear-based place. When we can transcend fear and the limbic system responses that arise from it we are able to connect with our partner (attacker) in a way that supports him while his intention brings him to the ground. This is not throwing, nor is it "winning," it is a process of being compassionately involved in what the attacker is doing physically without interfering with it. It is equally not opposing the will of the attacker, it is the active embodiment of "the loving protection of all things."
In our practice at my dojo, we do not teach from an technique emulation model, so we never know how our partner is going to attack. As ukes we never go along with our partner's "technique" so unless they really harmonize in the truest sense of the word, then what we call an "aiki resolution" (uke coming to rest on the mat or rolling) will not manifest. As ukes, we learn to authentically maintain an attacker's intention to destroy or control nage's center throughout the movement, so any response other than true harmonizing will not result in an aiki resolution.
We have found in this kind of practice that unless we can embody qualities that transcend fear (compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, understanding, etc), we resort to lower brain responses (resistance, locking up, or withdrawal) and aikido is impossible. But when we can embody those qualities and transcend our lower brain responses, it is uke's intention that leads him to the floor rather than nage putting him there.
When we practice like this we allow our uke's to roll, but we also learn at the advanced levels how to stay connected with our partner so that uke's final movement to the mat is soft and he is supported in such a way to eliminate harm to him from contacting the ground. In this way we are assured that our non-aikidoka partners (real life attackers) really receive the benefits of our practice of "loving protection of all things."
So while it is possible to use the movements that make up the physical aspects of aikido in a way that causes injury, pain, or even mild discomfort, it is ultimately a thousand times more effective to use them in a way to support our attacker in the "completion of his mission" as self-defense comes to be more a by-product of the interaction than the primary goal.