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Old 08-17-2007, 04:31 PM   #1
Mike_SMD
Dojo: Sanshukan Aikikai
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Reconciliation of Violent Action

I've been mulling this over for a little while now, probably on and off since I used to practice Aikido as a younger man (I'm back on the pony again and as fresh as a babe these days) and it's still something that I come back to and that I can't quite make click.

How does a student of Aikido reconcile the generally peaceful theme of it's philosophies with the undeniably brutal nature of it's movements as a martial art...?

This is difficult for me. I'm no spring chicken and I've been around the block, without sounding too smug I feel that I've got a pretty good grasp of the usefulness of Aikido movements as they'd approach applicability in a fight. What Aikido does well, it does *very well* and where there are holes in general they aren't too hard to fill.

(now unpurse those lips, that's not meant as an attack on the style but if you're objective there ARE some obvious weak spots)

Now...
When I see Aikido being practiced the first thing I notice is that most of the applications have been made 'soft' without actually 'nerfing' them. Flowing is a focus, preemptive control, blending with force and blah blah blah... all so that we can throw or pin our opponent in such a way as to minimize the immediate damage that we do to them in the process. Never do I hear "twist this and it'll break, roll the newly splintered limb up to make a handle, yank them off balance with it and then plant the dumb moron into the floor".

Which is good.

But I do hear, "Sensei, what happens if uke doesn't follow the technique? What happens if they resist? It's all fine and dandy to help one another learn by cooperating in the dojo but what about the outside world?".

There is a pause followed by a long low sigh.

And then a response usually comes along which typically goes something like this, "Well. Honestly the only really safe way to accept these movements is to follow along with them, if things are done rapidly and with conviction uke is going to get badly hurt by trying to struggle".

Which is where the problem comes in. Because with this the responsibility for an injury no longer rests upon your shoulders but rather with your attacker who has continued the aggression rather than realize he's in deep poop and instead for his/her own personal safety go along with being redirected securely to the ground. And let's be clear here, it is utterly and absolutely unrealistic to expect that anyone not specifically trained in Aikido (or possibly something damn similar) is ever going to give you the proper ukemi to avoid be dramatically hurt by a well executed Aikido technique.

So that means if you succeed, they get hurt, and there's nothing gentle about it in the end.

Some folks are going to say who cares...? They attacked you right...? Karma, or whatever, anyway they got what was coming to them. And from a purely 'martial' standpoint it's a fair evaluation, though it's not a very good 'Aikido' evaluation if you ask me. This reduces our art to essentially functioning as if it was any other, hurt them more than they hurt you until the conflict is over, and I think we're supposed to get more out of it all than that.

By defending ourselves we assume a responsibility for the results of our defense. Nobody can force you to take an action, as an absolute it's yours. Aikido is theoretically non-violent and it should be this through conscious choice and not simply the judicious use of self-delusion by it's students.

I'm just having a hard time getting it all to work in my head. I *like* the real world practicality that underlies Aikido, I wouldn't bother with a martial art that didn't have an honest martial application... but the peaceful philosophy behind this system has always thrown me for a loop.

If you've got any insight to toss into the mix, I'd love to hear it. Other than that I'm off to the grocery store to buy much needed sundries.

Talk to you all soon,

Mike.

Last edited by Mike_SMD : 08-17-2007 at 04:41 PM. Reason: flow
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Old 08-17-2007, 05:44 PM   #2
Aikibu
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Re: Reconciliation of Violent Action

We are on the same path. Good luck on your journey...

"Remember... The force will be with you...always."

Obi Wan Kenobi

William Hazen
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:15 AM   #3
philippe willaume
 
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Re: Reconciliation of Violent Action

Hello
In my opinion you are making a dichotomy where there is none.
Aikido is a martial art and martial arts are a way to produce violence in a consistently reproducible manner that is safe for tori.
And I think you are not making one where there is lieu to; ie training and self defence and protection.

The great thing with akido is that we can produce a great range of effect.
Discussing on bullishido a guy there said that there was 3 aspects to aikido technique and I think he put it in better way that I could so I will paraphrase him.
You can apply a technique at a very technical level. It may not really work but it demonstrated the technique and shows the important points.
You can do the same technique in such way then you will force uke to comply.
And a third way to the technique the do maximum damage (with minimum effort)
For me practicing aikido is practicing the 3 of them. I believe that is like horse riding, if you partice only walk or trot or gallop, can you say that you can ride?
I am not saying that you need to particle all evenly but in my opinion you do need to have a working knowledge or the 3 aspect

Now our actions are only the expression of our policy. "Martial" has nothing to do with it

If you are under the impression that you will be able or in a position to make the choice how badly you are going to hurt your opponent after you have thrown him once. Or if you believe that having plenty of space and a fair warning bfore the action.
You are living in doolally land. And it is border line of cretinism at the best and criminal at the worse to propagate that idea.
"You and me on the common, queensburry rule" is a thing of the past. Usually aggressors will try to get close, using surprise of deception, in order to reduce the time you have to protect yourself. (Weapon and number really depend on geography)

Non violence and or training in a dojo (and that goes for MMA as well) and that stage of self defence/self protection have the same relation together as onanism and reproduction. I.e. they have a fair bit in common (in the primary sense of onanism), and it concerns the same general area. But what you what to achieved is radically different.

The place to apply non violence (and where one should really do so) is in prudence is the best part of valour. Self defence laws actually make lots of sense and have that in common with akido. Do not be there if you can.
If you have to use violence, it is because you have made an effort to remove your self and he/they had followed you (or you have been ambushed). If the opponent has followed you (or has ambushed you), it is probably not to talk about the difference between post modernism and neo cubism.
This is when you make you decision to deck him proper, control him or throw him nicely.
What should motivate your decision is not what it is ethical to do to him but what, given the chance, he/they will do to you, and how likely that chance is to appear.

Aikido offer you the range between being nice or to be totally savage.
There is case where you can just get out of the way and redirect will be enough for you to get away or defuse the situation.
Equally, if the guy is significantly stronger, armed or there is several opponent, being nice is very likely to improve our already slim chances.

Some one resist in the dojo?
If you are in the case where what the technique is there to demonstrate principle, well any body can resist, but it is a cooperative exercise.
So something along the line of do not be an arse and get on with the program should sort that out.
On the same token since it is a co-operative exercise, why on earth would you use that in self defence?

If you are using the controlling way of doing akido, If he can resist it is because you are missing something. So doing it slightly harder, slightly faster and a slightly better atemi is seldom the solution. I know what I am talking about, that is my first inclination but it is almost never the right solution (and yes I still do it). for me, This is the minimum you need to use in self protection.

phil

Last edited by philippe willaume : 08-20-2007 at 05:22 AM.

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Old 08-20-2007, 07:17 AM   #4
dps
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Re: Reconciliation of Violent Action

Quote:
Mike Logan wrote: View Post
.Because with this the responsibility for an injury no longer rests upon your shoulders but rather with your attacker.
Quote:
Mike Logan wrote: View Post
By defending ourselves we assume a responsibility for the results of our defense.
Can't have it both ways.

The attacker is responsible for the consequences of his/hers attack.
Your are responsible for protecting yourself from the attack, which is what you train for.
The attacker determines the results of your defense.
David
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Old 08-20-2007, 11:30 AM   #5
Aikibu
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Re: Reconciliation of Violent Action

Don't worry guys...The fact that he is thinking about these things means he will figure it out for himself.

William Hazen
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:01 PM   #6
Roman Kremianski
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Re: Reconciliation of Violent Action

Mike's post is basically a long version of "Does Aikido work with resistance".

Something that's been debated even further than the underworld. The only real solution is to experience other martial arts out there and decide for yourself.
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:20 PM   #7
tarik
 
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Re: Reconciliation of Violent Action

Quote:
William Hazen wrote: View Post
Don't worry guys...The fact that he is thinking about these things means he will figure it out for himself.
We don't all come to the same conclusions though.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-21-2007, 08:40 AM   #8
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Reconciliation of Violent Action

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
We don't all come to the same conclusions though.

Regards,
Thank goodness, right. Otherwise, we'd all be 'concluded'.

We all meet our ends alone. It stands to reason that they be individual, while we do, indeed, all reach them. But it is nice to have company as you arrive.

Furthermore, Mountain Boy: There are many paths to the top of Loma Prieta.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 08-21-2007, 10:20 AM   #9
Aikibu
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Re: Reconciliation of Violent Action

Quote:
Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
Thank goodness, right. Otherwise, we'd all be 'concluded'.

We all meet our ends alone. It stands to reason that they be individual, while we do, indeed, all reach them. But it is nice to have company as you arrive.

Furthermore, Mountain Boy: There are many paths to the top of Loma Prieta.
it's not the "conclusion" just the everyday journey that is satisfying to me.

Happy to be sharing waves.

William Hazen
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Old 08-21-2007, 02:37 PM   #10
tarik
 
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Re: Reconciliation of Violent Action

Quote:
Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
We all meet our ends alone. It stands to reason that they be individual, while we do, indeed, all reach them. But it is nice to have company as you arrive.
Indeed, if arrival is the goal. Certainly we can only achieve the best results when we practice with those of like mind about what results we seek.

Quote:
Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
Furthermore, Mountain Boy: There are many paths to the top of Loma Prieta.
A common allegory, however, I think it can be very misleading.

For one, not everyone is interested in getting to the top of Loma Prieta; some may be more interested in a different mountain, sometimes a very different mountain with a very different environment. Climbing Mt. Everest will lead to an entirely different experience than climbing Loma Prieta, and while there maybe be useful comparisons, not every element of such different journey's are comparable in a useful fashion.

Furthermore, as commented by Mr. Hazen, some may be merely interested in the hike itself and could care less about arriving at the end of the journey.

Personally, the top of any mountain I've ever climbed or hiked (metaphorically or literally) has at best been only the halfway point in my trip and usually not even that; more like a "vista point" on my particular journey which I cannot imagine ending other than one way.

I think this expectation of arrival might just be the reason why some drop out of training, often after just making the first step (shodan). They expected to arrive somewhere and were surprised to find out that the journey was just begun.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-21-2007, 02:41 PM   #11
SeiserL
 
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Re: Reconciliation of Violent Action

IMHO, reconciliation if often the acceptance of the duality.
Its a peaceful art in a violent world.
The heart/mind can be peaceful while the body is active.
The art is peaceful, how one applies it can be peaceful, violent, or somewhere in between on the spectrum.

I once heard of a common nightmare where two wolves are fighting. When ask which one would win, an old man said which ever one you choose to feed.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 08-21-2007, 05:46 PM   #12
Mike_SMD
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Re: Reconciliation of Violent Action

Ha!
Well...

All good stuff but there are a couple of folks in particular I'd like to respond to with a little more than the usual generalities.

1. Philippe Willaume

I like what you're getting at, particularly near the beginning of your post where you bring up the 'three aspects' of technique. Also you could very well be right, I could just be drawing imaginary boundaries and then trying to box the concepts up so that they fit. It's the question though, and it's inherent in the philosophy of the style... Aikido is billed as a non-violent and non-aggressive martial art. My difficulty is in the fact that I just don't see it that way at all.

2. David Skaggs

Well, yeah you can have it both ways.

An attacker is responsible for the consequences of their attack. That's true. If they break your arm, that's their responsibility... but by the same logic you're still on the hook for the result of your counter-attack as well (call it self defense or whatever you like). If they fail to break your arm but you turn around and break theirs in response then this is your responsibility and not theirs.

Face it, you dealt the injury.

We could analyze your summation as a sort of long drawn out spiral of action... he attacked me and is responsible for my counter-attack (which is really only another way to say retributive attack) while through it I am now responsible for forcing him to counter-attack my counter but now he's responsible for pushing me yet again to attack all over again and onward into sheer nausea.

If the attacker is responsible for the actions of the defender it becomes an idiotic circle where both parties pawn off obligation onto each other and justify continuing the aggression. This model doesn't make sense, it's better to say that the responsibility for any attack lies solely with the attacker and to cut the moral implication of an angelic defender right out of the arrangement. If both of you are attacking, then both of you are responsible.

Regardless, thanks very much for your thoughts, now that my attempt at a response has been about as clear as a cupful of mud.

I'll work to clarify it on my own if you'd like to keep this discussion going.

Lastly i suppose it's time to toss my own two philosophical cents in. The problem with climbing to the top of anything, be it mountain or otherwise, is that once there you've still got to figure out a safe way to scramble back down.

Talk to you soon,

Mike.
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Old 08-21-2007, 09:49 PM   #13
dps
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Re: Reconciliation of Violent Action

Quote:
Mike Logan wrote: View Post
it's better to say that the responsibility for any attack lies solely with the attacker and to cut the moral implication of an angelic defender right out of the arrangement.
Yes. You attack you are responsible for what happens.

David
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Old 08-22-2007, 02:45 AM   #14
Tim Griffiths
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Re: Reconciliation of Violent Action

Mike, I think your problem is in the assumed answer to this question (snipped):

Quote:
But I do hear, "Sensei, what happens if uke doesn't follow the technique? What happens if they resist?....
And then a response usually comes along which typically goes something like this, "Well. Honestly the only really safe way to accept these movements is to follow along with them, if things are done rapidly and with conviction uke is going to get badly hurt by trying to struggle".
Which is where the problem comes in....it is utterly and absolutely unrealistic to expect that anyone not specifically trained in Aikido (or possibly something damn similar) is ever going to give you the proper ukemi to avoid be dramatically hurt by a well executed Aikido technique.
An aikido technique isn't like a sausage machine, where you stick an attacker in one end, select a speed and then flick the switch. Its very possible to apply any aikido technique without (seriously) hurting the attacker.
Its like you've got it the wrong way around: A shihonage that requires a big breakfall isn't a technique designed to flip someone in the air - its a technique designed to destroy someone's elbow/shoulder and land them on their head. If you're doing that technique, then that is the outcome you're aiming for. In practice we learn ukemi to survive it just so we don't run out of ukes too fast. You don't want to break your attacker? Don't use a variation that'll break them - use a different, softer, equally-as-effective one.

One of the beautiful things about aikido is that it gives you that choice - to inflict damage or not, depending on the situation. I've had several students who work in special schools or hospitals where damaging your attacker just isn't an option. Having that range of options (and practicing though the whole range, not just hard or just soft) is one of the most important gifts aikido has to offer.

Tim

Last edited by Tim Griffiths : 08-22-2007 at 02:53 AM.

If one makes a distinction between the dojo and the battlefield, or being in your bedroom or in public, then when the time comes there will be no opportunity to make amends. (Hagakure)
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Old 08-22-2007, 08:23 AM   #15
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Reconciliation of Violent Action

Nice post Tim.

B,
R

Ron Tisdale
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