Erick Mead wrote:
Are MARTIAL arts 'self-defense" or something else?
A tour of websites recently put me off. Particularly those in the vein of "Aikido is an art of non-violent self-defense.
Please forgive me for replying to the initial post despite the fact that the conversation has progressed so far.
I think the distinction is a matter of semantics...for the most part at least. I've been told by Aikidoka and non-Aikidoka that Aikido is not a self-defense art just as I've heard from both that Aikido IS a self-defense art. Some who have caled it a self-defense art even describe it as such because they consider the phrase "self-defense" to be a bad thing denoting a fear-based mind-set, implying that fear somehow automatically makes an action weaker.
Taking the terms at face value I think Aikido is a great method for learning to protect the self and others. In this sense at least, it seems clear to me it is a self-defense art. Even taking the idea that when we practice "Aikido" we are not fighting, I still think "self-defense" fits. I don't see the phrase as denoting conflict, but merely the preservation of self, without which we cannot hope to preserve the quality of life of others. In my mind, this is the bottom line to matters of Budo, which pertains both to love and war at the same time.