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Old 03-06-2005, 01:20 PM   #16
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Re: Without this, No Aikido

It seems to me that the ideas of "effective" and "compassion" - or understanding Aikido as such - leaves the door open just as much as "it's whatever you believe it to be." I am really hoping that folks that take on this view might share with us some sort of negative contrast by which we can come to know what this all might mean. As I said, for me, this understanding is way more "foggy" than any so-called spiritual understanding I might have heard, or employed.

For example:

- What is "effective"? Is it just marked by success? Am I effective just because I succeed in my tactic? Or, is "effective" marked by success AND a particular means by which success is achieved? Can I block and stop your strike, effectively stopping you from hitting me, or must I let it continue along its path of action but do so in a way that I am effective in preventing your strike from hitting me? I would say that the first example may very well be effective, especially if I'm stronger than you, but I would say that only the second example would be an example of "aiki" and thus of Aikido. For that reason, I at a loss over how "effectiveness" could mark delineation. Maybe you all that adopt this position could explain how that might happen -- show me what I am missing -- etc. - please/thanks.

- What is compassion within the martial application of technique? Am I being compassionate when I throw you and have you land on your head from at least three feet in the air and about 6 feet from me? Or do we want to say that such throws are not part of Aikido? I wouldn't want to say that? Or am I only compassionate when I choose to throw you (as described above) instead striking you, or instead of shooting you? (This is the real life understanding of the usual "doing as little damage as you can" rhetoric.) Is a boxer who has a firearm being compassionate when he pummels someone into submission rather than shooting them? Would this make him an Aikidoka? Are you all that adopt this view really ready to call any execution of violence that remains at its minimum escalation on the use of force continuum, and that remains effective, Aikido? Are smart bombs Aikido? I would say, "no." Smart bombs may be effective. Smart bombs may do a lot less damage than carpet-bombing, etc., but smart bombs are not Aikido and the pilot that dropped them is not an Aikidoka -- for me. Thus, for me, it seems that some other defining characteristic is necessary.

- The dictionary defines "compassion" as, "Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it." And the root words give the meaning of "sharing in the suffering of another." I'm not sure how "doing minimum damage" (which may not be what you all mean but is what a lot of folks understand about the aims of Aikido waza) makes sense in light of what compassion actually means and/or in light of what the root words may suggest -- unless you want to talk about the "compassionate" of putting someone out of their misery (but I still think that would be a stretch here because I would certainly like to draw a line between such "mercy" killings and Aikido). If we go on to consider what various spiritual and moral teachers have said about compassion, how and why we employ it, and how we cultivate it, even then I don't think we will meet its tenets by simply choosing option A over option B when it comes to defending ourselves via the martial engaging of another.

For me, and this is only my opinion, this idea of trying to keep things simple -- as with this definition -- only works to make things more muddy. It only appears to be simple because it hides more than it shows. It is not really simple, in my opinion. It is very complicated for a definition, and, in the end, it may actually prove itself to be totally useless since it cannot lend itself to any kind of orientation and/or delineation (which is not always a bad thing mind you) because it is just too open -- it lets in the things we know are intuitively from outside of Aikido.

In short, I got to ask it again: "Is a compassionate boxer an Aikidoka? If so, why?

Again, thanks in advance for the replies.

David M. Valadez
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