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Old 11-11-2012, 12:17 PM   #101
ChrisHein
 
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Re: The Fear of Power

Wow, it was great to read those reasons people started and do Aikido!

David,
I thought about this last night, and rehashed the conversation. I think we agree on a fundamental level, and I wasn't being open to that.

To use an analogy,
I look at Aikido as something like a big sturdy wooden sail boat. If we use that as our analogy. I think you are saying something like- Aikido is a boat, we shouldn't be putting in in a museum, we need to learn how to sail this boat. And we shouldn't be so scared of it that we never sail it, or it stops being a boat and is just something to look at, doing us no good.

I agree with that idea. If Aikido were a boat, I think it is very important to learn how to sail it properly, understanding how to handle it even in bad conditions. I'm even willing to entertain the idea of taking it out on long sails, maybe even travel across the ocean. I think that's great, if it's a boat, let's sail it and learn how to handle it! Let's not fear it, let's learn to use it. I'm totally on board for that idea!

I think where we start to drift apart, is, I think you picture Aikido as something like a modern supertanker. When I read the word "power" this is the kind of thing I think of. I also thought of Aikido as a "supertanker" when I first started. I thought supertankers were the best and only kind of important boats, and if anyone told me that Aikido was a silly wooden boat, I would have laughed at them. Then a teacher showed me, that it doesn't matter what kind of boat your on, you can enjoy the experience of being out on the water. And I realized that I was never after supertankers in the first place. That's not to say that I personally dislike supertankers, but I realized that being on the best boat in the sea, wasn't as important to me, as simply being on the sea was.

I would have replaced the word "power" with something like martial effectiveness. I do think that Aikido should be trained martially. We spar and train hard here. We train in the forms with very martial goals and motivations. But when you start to use the word "power", to me, you're not only looking in the wrong place, but you kind of missed the fun and enjoyment of what we have here. I think we agree more then I originally though,t even though I'm sure we still have some deep seated differences.

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Old 11-11-2012, 04:46 PM   #102
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Re: The Fear of Power

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
Well, mine comes from the root of aikido. This was the way Ueshiba really thought and lived. What does your truth come from?
Not from trying to psychoanalyze and imitate a dead man. I'm not trying to disparage those who take a serious scholarly approach to studying Ueshiba's life and trying to figure out what he was all about, and certainly not criticizing his students who have tried to pass on their understanding of it. But it's all a game of telephone, where things get progressively more distorted with every step. Aikido fundamentalists, who claim that they're going back to the source, are really just like any other kind of fundamentalist, and prone to the same errors: believing that fundamentalism leads to truth is simplistic reasoning. My truth comes from understanding that I'm a blind person touching the elephant: I "know" what's within my reach. I understand that my reach doesn't encompass all there is. But not knowing everything, and knowing that I don't know everything, isn't going to make my head explode (I seem to be in the minority in that regard, at least on aikiweb). And I'm not inclined to accept without question the "knowledge" that comes from other sources, without at least some consideration of the quality of the source in question. I just don't feel a burning need to come up with a full, final version of The Truth, is all. No, I didn't start practicing aikido as a quest for power, and no, I'm not deluding myself about that, and anyone who wants to tell me about my own beliefs and motivations is cordially invited to put it where Paddy put the drum.
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Old 11-11-2012, 08:11 PM   #103
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Re: The Fear of Power

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
You "make" a horse do something every time you work on its hoof. Ever see a horse stand on three legs with its fourth one lifted and bent? Do they do that naturally? So, when you make the horse lift it's foot, you are, in essence, exerting a power over the horse to behave in a manner that is not natural to its being. It only takes that position because you make it do so. That is power. You accomplished the task (no matter how you did it) of getting that horse in a position it naturally does not use. (Yes, the natural function of the leg is such that it can be put into that posture, but the horse does not naturally stand on three legs with one bent back, upwards.) That is winning.

So, you are successful in your outcomes. Why is that? Did the horse stand on four legs and not let you do anything to it? You were successful in the outcome that you desired. That's the definition of winning. And you got the horse to do something which it does not naturally do (hold one leg bent with hoof upwards). That's power. Your successful outcome over the natural nature of the horse.

Now, *how* you accomplish that, as you stated, can make a world of difference.
If that is how you choose to see it I can't really help that. I however having 25+ years of hands on experience with the subject have a different point of view.

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
So, you see horses in this position all the time and its natural?

http://yellowcreekfarrier.com/about_us

They stand like that for hours and there are millions of pictures of horses being in that posture naturally?

Or does the horse put its leg back down on the ground when you let go of its leg? Why does anyone have to find ways of keeping a horses leg like they do to work on the hoof if its all natural to the horse?
For a horse to lift his foot due to some stimulus is not unnatural for it. Putting it down when the stimulus goes away is also natural. And on average a trim takes about 15-20 minutes and a horse never stand in these positions for more than 2-3 minutes at a time. Which I agree is still not natural, but nothing that we humans do with animals is really natural. However an animal can learn to accept and be comfortable with those things without having had to experience conflict and thus give in to power. Once again... coming from the point of view of having had many years of hands on experience working with these animals. Trying to use my power to "make" a horse lift his foot once in a moment of impatience very nearly got me killed. Interestingly aikido has helped me to find ways of accomplishing the job without the need to use power or to bend a horse to my will.

We must agree to disagree I guess... unless you prefer not.

At any rate I don't believe I have anything further insight that I wish to add to this discussion.
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Old 11-12-2012, 09:08 AM   #104
Krystal Locke
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Re: The Fear of Power

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Well, as long as you know and understand why you are training. My point here is largely that people have either forgotten or have hidden from themselves the real reason they began training, that that reason was almost invariably to attain or increase their power (unless, as Tom mentions, the already have much power and want to somehow refine or tame it--which is a kind of power, as well). But if someone is claiming that power is bad, but they are unconsciously following an original motivation to gain more power, that can only result in alienation from oneself, which is opposite the purpose of aikido.

It's good that you recognize and acknowledge this very natural human drive. For too many people, aikido's big mat is like a giant pillow top mattress, more suited to sleep than to work. To find someone who seriously seeks the power of aikido frightens them and disturbs their pleasant dreams. It's nice to find that some people are awake on the mat.

Best wishes.

David
Well, now that I have your approval.....
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Old 11-12-2012, 09:28 AM   #105
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Re: The Fear of Power

I'm sitting here thinking, wondering, pondering. We all tend to project our own beliefs, intents and goals on others. I am about the least fluffy of Aikido folk you would meet. I am firmly convinced by hand's on experience of the value of the IP training, but I understand that this conviction is based on what I'm looking for, what I want, what I'm pursuing. I don't need to project that on anyone else.

And I have very good friends and compatriots who are perfectly happy to do what they have always done. They find tremendous personal satisfaction and value in how they study and practice their Aikido. Nah, ain't for me, but that's cool. People talk about Aikido like it's some small koryu with 1 guy leading the charge and 20 "real" students. Nope. Hundreds of thousands doing all sorts of stuff that if you picked correctly might look like totally opposite things.

So to quote my old school mate, the late Rodney King. "Can't we all just get along?"

It's easy to dismiss others saying they're afraid of learning the "truth" that appears so obvious to yourself. Unfortunately many "truths" say a lot more about us than the world out there and it is often in no way applicable to anyone else.

Me, I don't need convincing any more. I'm pretty open about what I think on these topics. I just don't see why folk have a hard time seeing that aikido is a richly diverse thing today with so many different branches, threads, directions, philosophies, etc. that you simply can't speak generally without speaking trivially and that speaking on very fine details ends up meaning you're likely speaking to only a small slice of the population.

Find your place. Train with sincerity. Keep an open mind. And then train some more.

Shrug...

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Old 11-12-2012, 10:26 AM   #106
Jeremy Hulley
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Re: The Fear of Power

Thanks Keith

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
I

Find your place. Train with sincerity. Keep an open mind. And then train some more.

Shrug...

Jeremy Hulley
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Old 11-12-2012, 11:18 AM   #107
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Re: The Fear of Power

This thread is popcorntastic.

Great comments Keith. Thanks.

I would say that in my own experience many people I've met in Aikido were really genuinely not interested in developing power. Quite a few liked to talk about gentleness and compassion but were pretty addicted to developing power over others (through strength, politics, social structures, waza...). Some were actively seeking to develop power. I've come to the realization that everyone comes to the their arts looking for different things, and yes, sometimes the reasons we cite are other than we hold in our true hearts.

To David, it's really nice to hear you making the points you are these days. I look back on many of our attempts at conversation in the past and think we would have a better chance of talking about the same things today. Back then, it felt a lot like the conversation you're having with Chris H now. You are both using similar words but talking about different things. Drives you cray!

Chris H, just a clarification. No one (that I'm aware of) is making the claim that Aiki *is the same thing* as internal power. One can have internal power and not use/manifest aiki. Whether or not one can manifest aiki without internal power is a tricky conversation. With my current understanding/definition of aiki, I'd say, "no" but then there are degrees of aiki, just as there are degrees of internal power, so it's a pretty gray question.

Chris Moses
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Old 11-12-2012, 12:37 PM   #108
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Re: The Fear of Power

This thread turned right around! Awesome.

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Old 11-12-2012, 04:51 PM   #109
Janet Rosen
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Re: The Fear of Power

A lot depends on how one defines "power." Power to affect other people, either by coercion/force, is often how people automatically think of it, but of course there is a lot of other power: power over oneself, power by moral example or moral pursuasion, charisma, etc...
I took up aikido looking for physical exercise that wouldnt bore me to tears and ended up immediately hooked by two factors: (1) it engaged me to directly challenge my weaknesses in movement and proprioception in a way that no previous activity ever had, so that despite being incredibly frustrated by my limitations for the first couple of years it never occurred to me to quit and (2) something about working on the connection with another person spoke to a me deeply.
I have never been interested in dominance; by nature I'm an observer and negotiator despite also having very firm internal convictions and sense of self. In work situations I've tended to be the one who leads by example.
An in truth, while I've engaged in active self-defense when necessary, in the dojo when the opportunity arises to "play" disregarding role of nage/uke, I tend to stay in the exploring connection mode more often than the exploiting openings mode.

Janet Rosen
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:40 AM   #110
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Re: The Fear of Power

I started aikido because I loved martial arts, I'd moved to a place where there were no good dojos of any style, and then this aikido dojo opened up. I didn't care two bits about aikido; I just wanted a good dojo to train in. I figured that if I just trained diligently, whatever this thing called "aikido" was would eventually reveal itself to me, bit by bit, but I wasn't in it for the revelation, I was in it for the process. I don't think any definition of power really figures into that.
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Old 11-13-2012, 10:39 AM   #111
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Re: The Fear of Power

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I started aikido because I loved martial arts, I'd moved to a place where there were no good dojos of any style, and then this aikido dojo opened up. I didn't care two bits about aikido; I just wanted a good dojo to train in. I figured that if I just trained diligently, whatever this thing called "aikido" was would eventually reveal itself to me, bit by bit, but I wasn't in it for the revelation, I was in it for the process. I don't think any definition of power really figures into that.
I am curious, how did you come to love martial arts? What made up a good dojo for you, despite your lack of direct interest in aikido?
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:11 AM   #112
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Re: The Fear of Power

Quote:
Krystal Locke wrote: View Post
I am curious, how did you come to love martial arts? What made up a good dojo for you, despite your lack of direct interest in aikido?
I trained, I liked it, it grew on me, I'm an observant person, I understood what made it work for me...not much to tell really.
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:11 PM   #113
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Re: The Fear of Power

For me, power is the ability to exert my influence. Breathing is the power to move air into my lungs. Driving is the power to transport myself. Posting a comment is the power to express myself.

We started aikido for some reason on which our decision to train improved our reality. Maybe get stronger, maybe become better fighter, maybe fight inner demons. If you truly started aikido because you had nothing better to do with your time and money, I have no argument for you.

Yes, I think we are afraid to admit we enjoy power. I think we are afraid of the consequences of our power and the responsibility we assume in exerting power. When we exert power, we do so by projecting the responsibility elsewhere.

We are threatened by power because it may necessarily lead to power over us. Someone who can fight... can fight me. Many would rather that nobody be able to fight, than to have some empowered over others.

The problem is that aikido is an empowering tool...

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Old 11-19-2012, 01:24 PM   #114
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Re: The Fear of Power

Jon, is it possible you're confusing power with autonomy?
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:48 PM   #115
Chris Li
 
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Re: The Fear of Power

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Jon, is it possible you're confusing power with autonomy?
Autonomy is power - just ask the Founding Fathers.

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-19-2012, 05:16 PM   #116
Cady Goldfield
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Re: The Fear of Power

I have found it interesting that the Spanish verb "poder" means "to be able" and also can mean "power," as in "the power to do something." So, "power," in that sense, is all about ability.

poder. masculine noun. 1. power (mando, competencia). estar en/hacerse con el ... To be able, may or can, to possess the power of doing anything (capacidad).
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:24 PM   #117
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Re: The Fear of Power

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Krystal Locke wrote: View Post
My experience as a bouncer makes me think that it is extremely possible to do aikido on people intent on harming me in a way that leaves them unharmed, yet somehow out of the building. Sankyo is pretty useful stuff, but I'm only bouncing drunks, tweakers, disaffected college students, and pissed off cage fighters.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 11-19-2012, 11:56 PM   #118
Krystal Locke
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Re: The Fear of Power

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Jon Heder actually moves pretty well. But he claims no training. Huh.
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:43 AM   #119
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Re: The Fear of Power

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Autonomy is power - just ask the Founding Fathers.
I think, if they weren't all gone to dust and you were able to ask them, the Founding Fathers (of anything) would tell you that autonomy is one form of power. One, and only one.
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:47 AM   #120
Chris Li
 
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Re: The Fear of Power

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I think, if they weren't all gone to dust and you were able to ask them, the Founding Fathers (of anything) would tell you that autonomy is one form of power. One, and only one.
Well, sure, but what's your point? It's still a form of power.

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-20-2012, 09:28 AM   #121
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Re: The Fear of Power

Mary-

As Chris indicated, I believe autonomy (or rather, autonomous) is a form of power. In particular, it is a form of power expressed with a freedom from control; a power independent of external influence. So in answer to your question, no, I am not confusing power with autonomy. More precisely, I would say autonomy is just a type of power.

As it would happen, I believe this power to be the core of my aikido - the power to act under my own authority without external influence affecting my actions. Right now, I think the lingo is "independent movement".

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Old 11-20-2012, 10:31 AM   #122
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Re: The Fear of Power

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As Chris indicated, I believe autonomy (or rather, autonomous) is a form of power. In particular, it is a form of power expressed with a freedom from control; a power independent of external influence. So in answer to your question, no, I am not confusing power with autonomy. More precisely, I would say autonomy is just a type of power.
Exactly so. The distinction matters. I think it's clear that some are failing to make that distinction in this discussion. Whether one fails to grasp that distinction or willfully ignores it, it still enables one to assert that those who are not seeking "power" in their aikido training are either 1)in denial or 2)incapable of exercising autonomy. That's the problem with using language as a blunt instrument: you tend to be wrong more often than not.
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Old 11-24-2012, 11:06 AM   #123
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Re: The Fear of Power

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
As Chris indicated, I believe autonomy (or rather, autonomous) is a form of power. In particular, it is a form of power expressed with a freedom from control; a power independent of external influence. So in answer to your question, no, I am not confusing power with autonomy. More precisely, I would say autonomy is just a type of power.
Exactly so. The distinction matters. I think it's clear that some are failing to make that distinction in this discussion. Whether one fails to grasp that distinction or willfully ignores it, it still enables one to assert that those who are not seeking "power" in their aikido training are either 1)in denial or 2)incapable of exercising autonomy. That's the problem with using language as a blunt instrument: you tend to be wrong more often than not.
Autonomy is not power. Autonomy is the result of having power -- to refuse the dictates of those who seek power over you. But it is dangerous to seek power -- for either purpose-- whether to exercise it over others, or to refuse its exercise over you.

Exercising power over others is an evil -- perhaps necessary -- but necessity tends to makes such evils into virtues. "Seeking power" is a moral question -- and really, what we do is not for the purpose of "seeking power.' We seek to engage the exercise of power without succumbing to its brutal logic. Those who seek power over others ultimately become its victims.

Don't believe me?

One hundred men -- the most powerful in the country -- gathered together. They quickly found out that their collective seeking of power did not matter one bit when faced with someone who understood the true logic of power -- and cared not one whit about its evil. He -- and they -- all wanted to have power over others. He, too, did not end well.

The Unabomber, on the other hand, was also obsessed with the logic of the power process -- but with its lack of opportunity for "real autonomy" in the nature of commonplace modern threats and conditions. Autonomy as power can be quite as dangerous an outgrowth of power-seeking as megalomania.

Quote:
Human beings have a need (probably based in biology) for something
that we will call the "power process." This is closely related to the
need for power (which is widely recognized) but is not quite the same
thing. The power process has four elements. The three most clear-cut
of these we call goal, effort and attainment of goal. (Everyone needs
to have goals whose attainment requires effort, and needs to succeed
in attaining at least some of his goals.) The fourth element is more
difficult to define and may not be necessary for everyone. We call it
autonomy ... most people are not in a position to pursue their goals
AUTONOMOUSLY. ... the power process is disrupted in our society through a
deficiency of real goals and a deficiency of autonomy in pursuit of
goals. ... The modern individual on the other hand is threatened by many things
against which he is helpless; nuclear accidents, carcinogens in food,
environmental pollution, war, increasing taxes, invasion of his
privacy by large organizations, nation-wide social or economic
phenomena that may disrupt his way of life.
I don't need martial art to obtain power. Any number of far easier technical means would suffice. I need martial art to be able engage the evil logic of real power-- whether to dictate (Hussein) or to refuse dictates (Unabomber) -- without becoming a part of it -- acting in violent circumstance without becoming infected with the contagion of the spirit of violence.

O Sensei did not vainly put Aikido into terms of Harae -- and the purification of violent spirit -- which can restore the world.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 05-21-2013, 10:39 PM   #124
David Orange
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Re: The Fear of Power

Quote:
Dave de Vos wrote: View Post
But mostly, power is a means to me, not the goal.

P.S.: I don't see how the calligraphy in Chris's dojo has anything to do with this discussion. You may not care about my perception of you, but to be honest you lost some points there.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vJ7r...XoDIw&index=17

It matters because there's a real way to do it and to show the wrong way centrally and proudly calls question to other things.

I just saw this calligraphy and remembered this line in this thread.

Best to all.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 05-22-2013, 07:01 AM   #125
ryback
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Re: The Fear of Power

"Nobody can take away my strength because I do not use it."
O'sensei Morihei Ueshiba

The goal of taking up martial arts has always been clear to me: to be able to defend oneself and to develop every aspect of the human being, physical, mental, spiritual, esoteric simultaneously. Of course this has nothing to do with wanting to impose your will by using force, neither with having any fear of power.
Many people confuse the way aikido works without relying merely on brute force with teaching the absence of any power, but nothing could be further from the truth. We use power in aikido or else nobody would go flying around or be imobilized, but that doesn't mean that we use it the way body builders do.
In aikido our power comes by redirecting the attacker's power, by using the combination of our tai sabaki and ki power, by being able to make the transition from hard to soft, by using hard and soft at the same time or the combination of all the above acording to the attack one faces. So we are far from using mere brute violent strength against the attack, yet we have absolutely no problem with being powerful.
Aikido is a martial art and a martial artist is a warrior first and foremost. However he is also the preserver of peace. There is nothing non pacifistic about being a martial artist. On the contrary it gives the chance to be actively in peace instead of simply talking about it.
Most people nowadays are full of anxiety and stress, leading lives that get them further and further from being one with themselves and nature. Practicing aikido leads people to get in touch with their selves, with human nature and if they practice seriously it leads them to be calmer, more realised persons, with higher self esteem. So they become peacefull inside and that changes also the way they interact with others.
Even in a self defence situation, it is the martial artist that can react more peacefully. He will either use his martial arts perception to avoid getting in trouble or (if that is impossible) he will use his self defence techniques to defend himself while being in complete control of himself, not causing unnesessary damage, hurting his attackers only as much as is needed to save his own life. So even though he has unwillingly entered a fighting situation, the martial artist can be in peace with himself during the confrontation and restore peace to his environment by neutralising his attackers. A theoretically pacifistic person, with no martial arts training, facing the danger he could either lose his life or lose control of himself and save his life by seriously hurting or killing his attackers even if that could have been avoided.
There is no inconsistency in being an aikidoka and being a powerful one as long as that power comes by using the aikido principles to apply aikido tachniques.
There is no inconsistency in being an aikidoka and being a peaceful one. Only the people that have the power to hurt are living in peace consciously. The others simply have no choice.
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