Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
osensei starts no atemi aikido
I understand the original question, and do not wish to stray too much from that topic set by it, but I wonder if there is not a subtopic here that is much more relative to the broader Aikido community -- one that could be settled outside of the respective camps of the individual believer.
Before I get what that might be, I would like to state here that I think we are dealing with a historical question -- that is to say, we are dealing with matters of historical accuracy. In that light, we are going to have to accept, on the one hand, that the practicality of striking may not lend as much credence to what is being asked as one may believe, while on the other hand, as in all matters dealing with historical questions, second party accounts (hearsay), and deathbed statements have to be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism. This skepticism has to be of such a nature to allow things to be suspended in doubt, long enough for other types of evidence to be considered. It's a healthy dose of skepticism that not only allows for but makes necessary the raising of other topics like those brought up by Mr. Ledyard, however relative they may or may not appear to be to the original question being asked. My position is that they are relative, but perhaps most strongly at an individual level (i.e. "Will you strike in your Aikido practice or not?"). However, that aside, I think an equally interesting thing to consider is what is being "unsaid" in the original question.
No one can doubt the martial viability of striking, especially not within those situations or circumstances that are deemed ideal toward striking. Thus, no one can doubt the practical space striking may find within any kind of martial application of Aikido. And yet such obviousness works little to satisfy the original question (and its many forms). Why? Because of what is going unsaid in the original question. What is going unsaid here is that somehow striking falls firmly, or more commonly, on the side of immoral action whereas throwing, locking, and/or pinning does not. Aikido, thought to be, or considered to be a "moral" art among a sea of immoral arts, therefore, does not strike. Osensei being the founder of this "moral" art, must have been against striking, therefore. This is how the logic is supposed to work, in my opinion, at the heart of question first posted in this thread. Let's dig a bit deeper.
The most common element for this division has to do with some sort of intuitive level of harm. Such that strikes are considered to be immoral because they cause more harm, and/or more harm than necessary, and/or, at least more harm than throwing, pinning, locking, etc. The argument is of course circular, such that throwing, etc., is considered to be more moral than striking because it causes less harm than striking, etc.
But how is such a position truly upheld? It seems to me it is all a matter of big egos in small wells looking up at the sky and thinking they see the whole of it. There appear to be some incorrect assumptions here and I'm wondering if someone, someone who is a strong proponent of aikido having no strikes, and/or aikido being a moral art (among immoral arts), and/or strikes causing more harm than throws, etc., could speak up and address some of the following, briefly stated, points:
1. (As to what demarcations can and cannot be used to define Aikido) Is not the art defined more accurately by the implementation of the tactic of Ďaiki,' or lack thereof, as opposed to the superficial and relative elements of waza and/or the basics found within waza? If so, cannot one strike via the tactic of Ďaiki,' and if so, cannot one strike and be practicing Aikido?
2. (As to striking causing less harm than throwing, etc.) Is not a large part of the harm being generated caused by the amount of force being delivered or manifested upon a given point of the human body? If that is true, is not more force being generated at a given point on the body when that body is being thrown (and hitting the ground) than when it is being struck? (Due to more mass being present at impact.) Was not this the whole tactical point of choosing to throw armored adversaries, along with addressing the likely hood of multiple opponents, over striking them, and/or of having throwing as a choice among striking them? In short, isn't this why throwing was seen as a viable alternative, if not a preferred one, when addressing battlefield possibilities?
3. (As to Aikido being unique morally to other arts) Are not all of Aikido's waza, once allowing for the individual interpretations of any given practitioner, found in nearly any other martial art (in and outside of Japanese origins)? Why don't all these other arts make such claims to their uniqueness? Why is aikido, armed with the same arsenal, under the impression that said arsenal can and does allow for non-injurious forms of fighting when no other art makes such claims? Why does Aikido assume that other martial arts seek violence and do not also equally idealize peace over war, etc.?
4. (As to the uniqueness of Aikido's "interpretation" of the same arsenal that is present in countless other arts) Is not the spiral Aikido's main geometric pattern? Does not the spiral contain all of the energies found in every other art: horizontal energy (centripetal and centrifugal), vertical energy (gravity), and linear energy (thrusting)? Is not harm the likely outcome of anyone of these energies when applied to the human body within a martial situation? And, can anyone of these energies truly be produced in and of themselves when manifested bio-mechanically? Can a movement ever truly be totally circular for example? Will it not always have gravitational energies working on it, as well as thrusting energies? And if so, once allowing for the possibility of the ground being present, are we not looking still at great deals of force at impact once that ground is met? Isn't the real lack of harm coming from a reduction in force at impact brought about by (in training situations) a learned cooperation on the one hand and (in non-training situations) a decrease in acceleration within one's technique on the other hand? Can't any basic from any art reduce force at impact, and thus injury, by reducing one's acceleration and/or by relying on a leaned cooperation? Can't any type of movement be done slowly, and thus gently?
To be sure there are more things that make it difficult, for me at least, to adopt the position that underlies the original question, but this seems to be as good a start as any.