View Single Post
Old 06-03-2013, 03:14 PM   #10
Erick Mead
Erick Mead's Avatar
Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,616
Re: Rei and Controlled Violence

Mark Mueller wrote: View Post
I seem to remember Ellis Amdur menitioning that Araki Ryu had several techniques that originate from the initial "formal" bow...I found this to be a very interesting paradox.
It is not a paradox, it is an entire grammar of conflict and etiquette.

In professional conflict (and in almost all cultures, though the forms vary immensely), it is customary among combatants-- whether figurative as in the practice of law, or physical as in the practice of war -- to treat their opponents with the respect due their mutual acknowledgment of the present ability of each being able and willing to do the other great harm, injury or inconvenience. It is a way of asking, usually implicitly, if each has realistically considered every other possibility of the resolution of the matter that has brought the conflict to bear between them.

Such respect is always liminal -- at a threshold. Even where there are rules for the conduct of the conflict -- such rules are themselves as treated as any other weapons are -- once the threshold of conflict is crossed and full engagement is begun.

This respect is called forth in the midst of conflict also -- but usually, only where there are appropriate new thresholds presented in escalation of threat -- or recognition of critical weakness -- or where pause, in the engagement, often merely logistical, sets a new boundary on the engagement. It is a conversation between species of predators. It is not conversation that occurs between predator and prey -- prey are dangerous because of the desperation of their commitment -- not their native aggression or violent nature.

It is cross-cultural, again, though forms vary, the physical aspects of a proper attitude of rei are almost universal -- and it is the quite opposite of the bluster and threat more common among the untrained, the unprofessional, or really those who are just plain common. A good western example of the practical guide to this grammar may be seen in reading George Washington's Rules of Civility, which he did not create, but equally certainly modelled and exemplified. "Courtesies," as Brookhiser noted about Washington, were originally aristocratic. "Courtesy" is behavior suited to a court -- a gathering of noblemen-- which is to say -- men forced into company who are nevertheless prepared to kill one another.

Conversely, carrying oneself and acting at all times with correct rei often forestalls most conflicts before they ever even become explicit, at least as to those that remain unnecessary. This kind of physical grammar does not usually exist between amateurs, and only rarely between amateurs and professionals.

Thus, amateurs, who do not habitually carry the attitude of rei without having to think about it may be at one and the same time both inviting targets and yet also a particular danger to the professional predator at the outset.

Americans, for instance, though being largely founded by the lesser sons of English and European nobility, and frequently led, in particular, by the scions of (often) tinpot "kings" and nobles of the Irish and Scots diaspora, have routinely used our "easy" or "rough" manners of a frontier circumstance to great effect in this regard. We have, throughout our history, typically concealed and conserved our noblesse to the end rather than the beginning of our conflicts.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 06-03-2013 at 03:19 PM.


Erick Mead
  Reply With Quote