Dennis Hooker wrote:
The Aikidoka should never harbor intent to do violence on another person. That is not to say the resulting interaction between an Aikido advocate and an aggressor will not result in some short sever repercussions to the aggressor. However it is the content of the Aikido persons mind and heart that determine if that repercussion was an act of violence. Not the outcome of the act its self. This could be said of any martial art I think.
The were three Aikidoka, all quite senior, in an alley. They were accosted by two individuals who started an argument. One of them sucker punched one of the Aikidoka, the other made directly for a second (the third Aikido chose not to get involved). The second Aikidoka went into a low kamae, and when the assailant approached, let off with one single atemi which broke the fellows jaw and ended the fight. By this time the original Aikidoka who had been sucker punched was strangling the first assailant with his tie in order to keep him from helping his friend.
What I would like to know, Dennis, is whether you consider the single strike which broke the jaw to be a violent act? Certainly the senior practitioner was aware of the probable consequences of such a blow. It would be very hard to maintain that he didn't have the "intention" to hurt this fellow. Legally, claiming lack of intention would not hold up in court. The action of the strike to the jaw has a high likelihood of causing a certain level of physical dysfunction when executed by a trained martial artist. It would be the use of that defensive technique and not what the defender claimed his "intention" was that would determine the parameters under which decisions would be made about his liability for the Use of Force.
I would maintain that Aikido when used for self defense in a situation in which there is serious intent to injure or kill on the part of the attacker, will often, if not always, have a violent result. This result will come about, not by accident, but the by the use of techniques which are inherently dangerous. The Aikidoka might try to minimize the damage done to the attacker, he might take the attacker's well being in to account in his actions, but against an attack by someone who is technically proficient there will be injury, period. Is that violent?
It is untrue to say that the attacker "hurt himself" and that the defender was being non-violent. Legally it won't work as a justification. But also morally it leaves the responsibility of the acts to someone else. That isn't good ethics. If I am a competent practitioner and I am involved in a serious defensive situation I would use whatever techniques I deemed appropriate to the situation. If it were a stupid drunk, I would use lower level force techniques, if it was a multiple attacker situation the first person I touch isn't getting up again any time soon, if there is a weapon involved I will almost certainly break or dislocate some joints or bones, probably take out the eyes, and unless they are totally incompetent and I feel I can ease up, I won't stop until they are unconscious. If I am properly trained, none of this will happen by itself, none of it will be accidental. If I know what I am doing these acts will be intentional. If I break an arm without intending to either I am not competent or they had some predisposition to be injured.
I maintain that non-violence is in your heart. You do everything you can to avoid a conflict. When the conflict is over you let it go and harbor no ill feelings. During the conflict you do whatever is deemed necessary in your own mind to resolve that conflict. If the attacker is seriously violent then the actions you take will almost certainly be violent and intentionally so.
I think that any act of violence (including War) is something to be regretted. If I had to dismantle someone in order to protect myself or another I would take no pleasure in it. I am heartsick listening to all of the talking heads and politicians joyfully carping about how we have won the War in Iraq. We have done horrible things to thousands of people, many of them innocent people we were there to help. We may have had to do this (another discussion), the innocent lives lost on both sides may have been the cost of something better and greater in the future. But it is absolutely immoral to attempt to distance ourselves from these actions. It is the same in individual combat. If I did it I intended to do it, it didn't happen because of the attacker. I should be able to justify what I chose to do by outlining the threat that I perceived. That is the way in which the legal system functions. If I hurt someone I will regret having to do it. I would probably be angry at the attacker(s) for forcing me to do it. But whatever I did was my own action. If it had violent results it was because I intended it to have violent results.