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Old 08-21-2007, 10:32 PM   #1
Guilty Spark
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Location: Flordia
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 300
Can a pacifist study (apply) martial arts?

My answer is no.

I've read posts from Aikidoa and other martial artists who like to consider themselves pacifists.
While I think it's a nice thought, I think it's wrong.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) -
--noun 1. a person who believes in pacifism or is opposed to war or to violence of any kind.
I believe the minute someone physically defends themselves (including Aikido) they are not considered 'passive'.
I think the key is taking action.
Even with aikido's ultimate goal of not hurting your attacker, you're still commiting to action vice being passive.

1. not reacting visibly to something that might be expected to produce manifestations of an emotion or feeling.
2. not participating readily or actively; inactive: a passive member of a committee.
3. not involving visible reaction or active participation: to play a passive role.

If you're hungry, keep moving.
If you're tired, keep moving.
If you value you're life, keep moving.

You don't own what you can't defend
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:01 PM   #2
Location: Auckland
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 971
New Zealand
Re: Can a pacifist study (apply) martial arts?

you're confusing two homophones imo. Pacifist - believing in peace =/= passive - not doing anything.

There's a great quote which I'm sure someone will supply about only warriors being able to choose pacifism - everyone else is doomed to it. Which is true. I think the choice not to resort to violence has more meaning when you have a capability to use violence.

I also think that it's not a binary situation. It's a scale with pacifism on one end and infliction of mindless violence on the other. There are degrees in between. I think it's very possible to be *firmly* down the pacifistic end of the scale and be a martial artist. Maybe not at the *extreme* end. But since when is talking in extremes a useful exercise....

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:05 PM   #3
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
Location: Oceanside, California
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 1,240
Re: Can a pacifist study (apply) martial arts?

There is also the school of thought that a real pacifist might have the capability of exercising violence and choose not to. That would suggest that a pacifist could study a martial art, but choose never to apply it. It also suggests that pacifism is a choice and if one had no capability to be violent, then he would have no choice and would not be a pacifist. But, whadda I know about pacifism?

"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:17 PM   #4
Roman Kremianski
Dojo: Toronto Aikikai
Location: Toronto, Canada
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 404
Re: Can a pacifist study (apply) martial arts?

Pacifists are against violence, but martial arts practice is not violence, so I guess they can do it.
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Old 08-22-2007, 04:48 AM   #5
Dojo: aikido of central new york
Location: syracuse,ny
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 143
Re: Can a pacifist study (apply) martial arts?

I consider myself a peaceful person, but if it comes down to me, my family, or innocents being confronted by violence, not to act would be a violation against nature.

Pacifism is a study on not creating violence from a non-violent situation and promoting peace. So to answer your question, yes doing Aikido and having the "proper" frame of mind, is indeed pacifism. After all did't the Buddhist Monks of ancient China and India create versions of martial arts like Shaolin Kung-Fu, and the Indian derivative to not only do physical training but also to protect them from invading marauders.
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Old 08-22-2007, 05:17 AM   #6
Location: Auckland
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 971
New Zealand
Re: Can a pacifist study (apply) martial arts?

actually I believe the story goes that that shaolin was a deriviative of the indian arts not vice versa

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 08-22-2007, 05:33 AM   #7
Dojo: Nishin Kan
Location: Herzliya
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 171
Re: Can a pacifist study (apply) martial arts?

How did you confuse Pacifism and passivity? The definition of violence is (taken from about.com): Physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing: crimes of violence.

Even with the definition for pacifism that you presented, a pacifist may still act with physical force for purposes other than violating, damaging and abusing, which most martial arts preach against, anyways.
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Old 08-22-2007, 05:34 AM   #8
Dirk Hanss
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Dojo: Aikidoschule Trier
Location: Merzkirchen
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 471
Re: Can a pacifist study (apply) martial arts?

Pacifist means literally "peace maker".
While I do not think it is in the meaning of theColt with the same name, it really means you have to do something. But always with the intention to preserve or create love and peace.

To make peace, you need to have the choice. So if you are not able to do harm, you cannot call yourself a pacifist, you are just non-violent by non-ability.

To find the exact edge is very difficult and individual. But if you tolerate violence (against third paries) you are not making peace - and if you are trying to destroy someone else, even if he is evil or if you accept 'collateral damage' you are just doing the opposite of making peace.

So applying Aikido techniques is not the golden path, but it can be a reasonable compromise.


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Old 08-22-2007, 05:42 AM   #9
SeiserL's Avatar
Location: Florida Gulf coast
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,888
Re: Can a pacifist study (apply) martial arts?

IMHO, yes.

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 08-22-2007, 09:08 AM   #10
John Ruhl
Dojo: Cleveland Aikikai
Location: Cleveland, OH
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 39
Re: Can a pacifist study (apply) martial arts?

I can't help but think there's a T-shirt opportunity here:

Aikido: putting the "fist" back in "pacifist".

That said, if you browse definitions in different dictionaries, you'll get a variety of wordings, some of which make it sound like the label "pacifist" should be reserved for those who don't believe in taking any violent actions ever. Other definitions are less strident, leaning more toward the word root interpretation (pac, as in Pacific Ocean = peaceful ocean) that Dirk pointed out.

So the answer to your question depends on your definition of pacifist; when the answer depends on the definition, it's time to use more than one word.

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Old 08-22-2007, 09:32 AM   #11
Basia Halliop
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 711
Re: Can a pacifist study (apply) martial arts?

Aikido: putting the "fist" back in "pacifist".
I love it!

I'd say yes, they are sometimes compatible, although I suppose to answer precisely you'd need to know more about the person's beliefs, since different people define pacifism in subtely different ways, as well as more about the martial art in question and how they train it and when and if they would be willing to use it and how.

(and no, the fact that pacifism shares several letters with passive is a complete coincidence... many many words share letters without having any shared linguistic basis or shared meaning! Some, like 'too' and 'to', even sound identical and there is no hidden message there; it's an accident of linguistic evolution)
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Old 08-22-2007, 09:59 AM   #12
jennifer paige smith
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Dojo: Confluence Aiki-Dojo / Santa Cruz Sword Club
Location: Santa Cruz
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,049
Re: Can a pacifist study (apply) martial arts?

the complete
sequence of associations if found in the "four souls" and "one-spirit"
formulation: sachi-mitama, nigi-mitama,(pacific soul) ara-mitama, kushi- mitama, and ichirei
[ ] associated with earth, water, fire, heaven, and primordial void, in that

Pacifiism is an element of the whole based on the function of nature. We are all, and possess, all of them, whereas we are usually 'heavy' in one department. The purpose of training is to balance the earthly (universal) elements that exist in, around and among us. Nigi Mitama is the pacific soul, or water soul. Last time I checked we were chock full of water (both individually and planetarily)and balancing that element with the others outlined in the above quote would be a damn
good plan for practice.

The quote at the beginning came from Abe Sensei's translations.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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