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Old 04-21-2006, 08:06 AM   #63
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,619
Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Matthew Gano wrote:
Please forgive me for replying to the initial post despite the fact that the conversation has progressed so far.
Beginnings are good places to return to.
Matthew Gano wrote:
I think the distinction is a matter of semantics... [some] 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.
The weakness or strength of the action is not the value measure in view, I think. I also think that (and David or Kevin will surely help me out here if I stray too far) that it is related to the attitude motivating the action (for uke or nage). I cannot rely on my opponent's attitude, but I acknowledge that my attitude has a great deal to do with the success or failure ( better dichotomy, I think) of my action. This natural understanding of the internal importance of motivation I think tempts us to look for the internal motivation in our opponents, because it is so determinative for us. But it is forever beyond our knowledge. And in my view, we tend to supply this vacuum with constructs of our own, and then attribute them to our oppoenent. Sometimes these are accurate, sometimes not, but always dangerous if I assume they reflect his reality, rather than my own.

Picking back up on the Wu-Wei thread of the discussion -- my success in technique is mostly determined by the attitude of allowing uke to act as he wishes, and not by determining his action for him. Uke gets to choose the action -- but if he has not given due consideration to nage -- he does not get to choose the result. nage gets to play too. For good Aikido to happen as nage, my action must assist uke's action -- in ways that he did not yet realize he needed help. .
Matthew Gano wrote:
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.
And at face value I do not disagree, but there are things that happen that are not on the face -- there is a ura side to everything, and behiond the face, as I have noted, there is much that must remain forever dark to us but also other things that can be felt if not seen and need to be explored.
Matthew Gano wrote:
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.
Ogenkide! Matt
The shadow of Self is Other. If we preserve Self and ignore the shadow Other, the enemy unseen lurks behind us and will take us when we least expect it. "Other" in classic martial terms may be friends ,family, brotehrs in arms, etc. If we look to preserve both Self and Other, the shadow is lightened and brought more to front. We are willing to risk more, and therefore more likely to prevail if a contest is thrust upon us.

If we adopt O-Senei's paradigm, we are then not dealing with an even an opponent as an enemy -- still an opponent -- but not the dark horror of imagining framed from the knowledge of our own sin and aggression. The weakest human beings can sometimes nurse the most horrible deisres for revenge, and they reflect this in the threats they perceive in others. "Small man syndrome" is known in every culture.

Taking O-Sensei's apporoach makes our Other more human, and less psychologically debilitating in terms of our mental construct of perceived threat. We see more clearly what he is doing and not what we fear he may do.

He may also become more amenable to much smaller techniques in kaeshiwaza, by, say -- the sudden deep bow, and an unexpected apology. "For what?" Uke may be still wondering about as he is put off balance by an unexpected reaction to his hostility. But that is aikido -- good ura waza.

And anyway, I really should apologize in advance for what is about to happen if he does not do proper ukemi to that most gentle form kaeshiwaza, by thanking me and walking away. .

Erick Mead

Last edited by Erick Mead : 04-21-2006 at 08:10 AM.
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