(May be disturbing to some.)
I apologise at the start for the glum tone of this post; well - it was a glum sort of night. The kind of night that gets me thinking all sorts of things to take my mind off what it's doing and try something new for a while. Unfortunately; where all the options are pretty glum too.
I was thinking a bit about the Aikiweb here; in particular one of my pet peeves about this whole 'learn SD in a dojo' thing.
It's about winning.
See; I state time and time again that my goal - when considering defensive aikido - is not about winning; but about escaping. For reasons I've listed elsewhere; too tired to list them here.
This all started on another site I belong to in which someone was bitching and moaning about an incident he'd recently survived; he'd been held up at gunpoint.
OK; I admit that's a terrible thing; but he was whining about 'how will I ever forgive him and get on with my life' and ' I'm mad at myself for not doing anything to win'.
I'm not proud of it; but I blew up - went totally nuclear. 'Cause the little twit was ignoring every single thing his more experienced peers, nature and simple common sense was telling him about not rushing from behind a counter to attack someone lined up on him with an assault rifle.
My reaction sort of sparked a really dark train of thought; and it kept coming back to this winning and losing thing.
Thing is peeps; we all know - or should know - that in a violent encounter; losing really, really sucks. It's going to hurt - bad. There is a very good chance in today's day and age you might not survive losing.
All in all; winning is pretty much the better option of the two; don't you think?
Wanna know something? I hate losing. I mean, I'm totally scared to death about losing. The thing is though; I hate winning almost as much. It may be the lesser of two evils; but to my way of thinking the margin is very slim.
I say that; because I've won in the past. I've won several times.
In fact; when it got right down to the core; I've never lost.
"Well, there he goes again," you might say; "bragging about what a he-man he is!"
Bragging? I've certainly been accused of it - many times.
The last time I won; 3 drunks wound up going to jail; one with a very sore wrist and a puffy face where I hit it with a wall.
Yipee! I won!
All I felt about it at the time was the sad, sick feeling that the thing was back. Something I thought - hoped - had been buried for a long time.
If you've been in the business; you know what the thing is. If you haven't; you'd rather not know - trust me on this.
The time before that I won; someone was carried - screaming - into an ambulance with an elbow and knee shattered beyond repair.
A time before that I won; I left a largely headless corpse behind me. I was moving too fast to take in details; but I remember it twitching.
Another time I won involved a bayonet - mine.
There were a few others - none felt any better.
These are not bar-fights, BTW; I don't consider those to be 'violent encounters'. Otherwise the list would be quite a bit longer.
I'm sorry - some days nighttime isn't a very pleasant time for me.
Let me tell you something people; winning really, really really sucks. You might get offended at this statement; frankly I don't care - but for 99.9% of the people reading this; winning a genuine violent encounter sucks so damned bad you wouldn't be able to handle it.
I put this in the 'spiritual' section for a reason. I'll get to that in a sec; but let us be certain about one thing: Many teachers - if not the vast majority - teach their students in their own image. That is; they try to get their stuents thinking along their lines; believeing what they do; acting like they act. This is not negative; it is in fact how the wonderful nature of the Arts are passed along. I do not, however, do this. As I teach SD in our dojo; I do not do it for one good reason: I do not want my students to be more like me. I want them to avoid ever becoming like me. Physically; psychologically. There are parts of me I do not openly discuss; except to those who understand it. Those - in other words - who know what the thing is.
That's why I go so freaking ballistic when I see people talking about 'winning' a violent encounter - because it just shows they don't understand in the vast majority of cases; if you win the battle; by Christ have you ever lost the war! Most people don't understand that - so rather than have them face the possibility of finding that out firsthand; I think it's better to try to get them to see it secondhand.
I put this in the 'spiritual' section because most people consider the 'spiritual' side of aikido to be very positive, uplifting, self-bettering, etc. And it is - I love the peace and thoughtfulness it brings. Don't assume because I deal mostly with the defensive aspects on Aikiweb and at the dojo that I ignore the spiritual - it's just that I look at the two as one and the same. But it must be remembered - there is also the dark side of spirituality. The black, horrible parts of the soul that exist in all people - some more than others; some closer to the surface than others. If we want to understand ourselves as spiritual beings; we must be willing to take a deep breath and face the dark, rotten part of ourselves; one cannot beat something by ignoring it.
I suspect those fortunate few that achieve true inner peace have done so by looking hard at that black spot; respecting it, understanding and accepting it as part of themselves.
But it's here - in this black part - that winning takes its most terrible toll. In the safety; pleasure and comfort of the Dojo; we tend to forget that what we are practicing is a brutally efficient defensive system; one which can spell mayhem or death to the attacker if done properly.If that day ever comes when one must use what he's learned - and subsequently wins; chances are good - in a genuine violent encounter - that person will have done something truly horrible to the attacker. Think about the aikido techniques; and picture what can happen to uke if he doesn't know the ukemi. Unless the aikidoka is completely devoid of emotion and ethics; the guilt, pain and shame of winning in such a way will go straight into the black part and make it grow.
Therefore; there is only one way to win - truly win - and that is not to play. If one hopes to preserve the balance of spirituality and efficiency that aikido is; one must stop thinking about 'winning' a 'fight'. One must think about 'escape'.
Even ignoring the legal aspects; escape is your best policy - your best option under any circumstance.
Now; I know what a lot of people will say: "All that happened in combat; therefore it doesn't apply to me - you're just scare-mongering! That won't happen if I'm attacked in a bar!"
Maybe - but consider something: We do not train to fight in bars. A bar fight may happen; you may become involved. If so; you've ignored your training - because one of the things aikido teaches so well is the ideas and mindsets to avoid being caught up in a bar-fight! If you do get caught in a bar fight; chances are you're at least partly responsible.
No - aikido is not designed to help you under those conditions. Where it can help you - if one learns within the proper mindset - is defense against genuine violent attack - the mugger, the rapist, the robber. It is not a catch-all by any means; but it has good answers for the questions it addresses.
In other words; the same ones torturing and killing families in that other place are the same ones stalking the night streets of Scarborough or LA or Jakarta or London; looking for the next score/thrill/target. They're the ones without a moral center; no base of ethics.
You cannot win against these people - unless they're certain they will succeed they will not attack. And when they do; it'll hit like an avalanche - with the intent to dominate, to destroy, to overwhelm; not fight. You can't win under those circumstances - but you can escape.
Neither can you escape the horrors of winning if you do manage to win - but you can escape the attacker.
So - learn about escape. If your intent in studying aikido is in any way defensive (and for many, it isn't - that's great as well); start thinking along 'escape' lines, not 'winning' lines.
Because when everything suddenly stops; there'll be three possibilities: Escape. Losing. Or the thing.