Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Thanks for addressing the post Ted.
Not necessarily to disagree, but to elaborate my original point: I was trying to keep things as scientific as possible, in order to stay away from hard to define terms like "harmony" or "disharmony". Those kind of terms are too loaded, or rather too embedded by the unsaid issue I am trying to raise as an alternate method of dealing with the question of striking in Aikido. This is why I made the jump as quickly as possible from "harm" to "injury" to "force at impact", and why I left "foggy" terms that I could not get away from in their original Japanese -- for example, ‘aiki'.
If one would allow me to not have to go too deeply into the various historical understandings of both the ura and omote takes on what ‘aiki' is and/or is not, I would like to say here that ‘aiki' could be understood as the use of the opponent's energy against him/herself (that is to say, using their energy toward our own designs which we can say are at the moment not in total agreement with that of the attacker). This, I think, is the closest I came to terms like "harmony" in my original post. But even by this definition one can strike, as my first rhetorical post suggested, with ‘aiki', such as in the case of using the opponent's oppositional energy to generate more force at impact or at contact - a force which is then usually applied to a given "corner" of the body for purposes of kuzushi, and/or throwing, etc. Aikido would not look the same at all if we did not allow the use of an oppositional energy to generate more force at impact/contact. By using that force in this way, we are using the opponent's energy for our own designs, designs that are not currently his/her own, and thereby we are applying aiki, and hence practicing Aikido - as this small deduction process has laid it out here.
So here, addressing your suggestion that this is a matter of ‘disharmony', rather than a matter of aggression, etc., I would say that we are going to either have to count a lot of Aikido as disharmonious or a lot of striking as ‘aiki', and leave matters of "aggression" to the psychological fields it is so rightly allocated to.
On your other point: I did not mean to suggest that one thing is more "deadly" than another. The true mortality rate of something, even caliber size in fire arm ammunitions, is too highly dependent on any given set of circumstances such that it would never behoove us to talk about such matters outside of very specific examples. I was only saying that a throw would product more force at impact, over a strike, because more mass would be present at the point of impact (e.g. the mass of the ground, and the mass of the body being thrown), as opposed to a strike which would have less force at impact due to the decrease in mass (e.g. the mass of the weapon used, the mass of the target being struck) -- allowing for acceleration to remain reasonably equal of course. I then went on to say: More force, more chance of injury, more chance of harm, more chance of acting harmful toward another human being. This last line is of course riddled with jumps in logic, but I do feel they are reasonable, or at least reasonable enough to have us doubt the position that striking is more immoral than throwing because it causes more harm.
I agree with your point over the practicality of striking concerning an armored adversary, but I would like to suggest that throwing such an adversary would be the option of choice, that it would not be the selected default tactic ‘because striking wouldn't work'. Allowing for the viability of throwing over striking in a multiple attacker situation (i.e. battlefield warfare), throwing an armored opponent would cause a lot more harm than both striking and than throwing an unarmored opponent. This is of course made possible due to the increase in mass caused by the added material and weight of the armor -- armor that did not have the luxury of today's absorbent technologies or materials. In short, I would say that there definitely was a time in Aikido's history (the history of the arts that preceded it) where it was fully understood that if you wanted to injure someone, truly injure him, throw him, don't try and hit him -- throw him. What happened?!
On your final point, I would still hold the position that any basic could be done slowly,in order to reduce acceleration at impact, in order to reduce force at impact, in order to reduce the likelihood of causing injury, in order to reduce the likelihood of acting harmful toward another human being. I do not at all suggest that the application of speed plays no part in a single or in any given martial tactic -- it does and always will. So I was not trying to say that striking could be done slowly and remain martially viable in one or all situations. I would not say this about throwing, pinning, or locking either. The speed of one's movement, or rather the need for speed in one's movement, is entirely relative to the skill the practitioner hold in matters of timing and also to the lack of said skill in the opponent. What cannot be attributed to this skill, or lack thereof, can in extreme cases be relegated to elements of strength or lack thereof. Which is why I can in fact use slow strikes (understood culturally to be pushes) on a person much less skilled than I or on folks a lot weaker than I. The same goes for throws as well -- if we are wishing to talk about martial viability. In short, I would have to disagree at the embedded suggestion that one can do a slow throw on anybody at any time to achieve any end.
Your last point is very interesting on how one might understand what Osensei meant by "not harming." It may point to some problems in translation, problems that we without access to the original sources, and/or without access to the original language, will have to suffer through for some time to come - I would imagine. It may very well be like the original commandment that reads "thou shall not commit MURDER" and NOT "thou shall not kill."
Again, thank you,