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Old 06-02-2015, 08:30 AM   #1
Sojourner
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Aikido, Compassion in Self Defence.

Greetings all,

Here is a piece that I wrote on Aikido, Compassion and Self Defence.

https://dontmakemeangrymrmcgee.wordp...-self-defence/
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Old 06-02-2015, 12:49 PM   #2
jonreading
 
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Re: Aikido, Compassion in Self Defence.

Interesting read.

I have been moving away from a couple of concepts you talk about...
1. Self-defense. I think we have tired the "if you want to learn self-defense, get a gun/dog/violent sport fight/military training/etc. It's a demeaning tool used to frame the conversation as "so, you want to hurt people, well try..." Second, aikido people at some point in time said, "Aikido is great self-defense;" so much so it became a combative training for law enforcement. Either aikido is effective for physical confrontations, or it is not. I think you start threading the needle when you start differentiating the type of confrontation for which we train aikido.
2. I perceive compassion as a state of parallel suffering (we are suffering together) with a desire to relieve the suffering. I have started moving away from that term because I have come to realize that compassion includes a key element that I specifically train in my aikido to not do - create a necessary state of parallel suffering.

I have been using empathy to better describe my relationship with my partner because it gives me the freedom to understand and appreciate what my partner is going through, without inheriting a shared state of being or an obligation to relieve my partner of discomfort. This perspective is more consistent (I think) with my general belief that uke resolves technique in aikido. Also, that I am not "doing" something to my partner to relieve discomfort; rather, my partner is doing something to herself that relieves discomfort.

Most of the roles you described in your post are not self-defense - we are inserting ourselves into a dangerous role, not escaping a dangerous situation. I am not sure the two are the same, although the social relationship dynamics certainly complicate those scenarios. Assault is assault, regardless of why it is committed. For me, self-defense is a justification for a response that hinges upon the ability to halt physical injury or prevent injury from occurring to me during the (or in anticipation of an inevitable) assault.

Thanks for the post.

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Old 06-03-2015, 02:27 AM   #3
Sojourner
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Re: Aikido, Compassion in Self Defence.

Hi John, you make several interesting points. Perhaps what I am trying to say with the suggestion that if people want the fast road to self defence to go the Krav Maga route more based around the evolution that I have been through of the same thought pattern. I started that way with the same motivation, then as I began to realize that my training in Krav was making my personality more and more aggressive I took a step back from it. To a novice it is hard to get the same point across that there are better ways to defend yourself than to hurt people, yet once people have the blinkers on and feel that striking someone is the way that it is done, then I feel those people have to journey down the same road and realise it themselves, although I do hope that some of those people see that in the blog post, that there are other ways and solutions than aggressive striking patterns.

Clearly your second point is an esoteric one I have not really had the same experience as you there. I tend to lean towards existentialism in the area of suffering and some of the theories put forward by Soren Kierkiergaard the suffering brings people into a closer relationship with God and may not always be meant to be negative in the longer term. The jury is still out for me on that one!
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Old 06-03-2015, 07:00 AM   #4
Sojourner
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Re: Aikido, Compassion in Self Defence.

Apologies to everyone, I went to merge a category on the blog page and managed to delete this post! Sorry, I will have a go at putting it back up at some stage!
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Old 06-03-2015, 11:05 AM   #5
jonreading
 
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Re: Aikido, Compassion in Self Defence.

Quote:
Ben White wrote: View Post
Hi John, you make several interesting points. Perhaps what I am trying to say with the suggestion that if people want the fast road to self defence to go the Krav Maga route more based around the evolution that I have been through of the same thought pattern. I started that way with the same motivation, then as I began to realize that my training in Krav was making my personality more and more aggressive I took a step back from it. To a novice it is hard to get the same point across that there are better ways to defend yourself than to hurt people, yet once people have the blinkers on and feel that striking someone is the way that it is done, then I feel those people have to journey down the same road and realise it themselves, although I do hope that some of those people see that in the blog post, that there are other ways and solutions than aggressive striking patterns.

Clearly your second point is an esoteric one I have not really had the same experience as you there. I tend to lean towards existentialism in the area of suffering and some of the theories put forward by Soren Kierkiergaard the suffering brings people into a closer relationship with God and may not always be meant to be negative in the longer term. The jury is still out for me on that one!
Self-defense is an odd thing. Statistically, we regularly act within riskier scenarios than assault scenarios. Seatbelts, quitting smoking, better diets... There are several life choices that more directly contribute to making one "safer," than becoming competent in physical combat. "Self-defense" is an emotional appeal - it's a marketing tool targeting the fear of losing control over a situation.

I happen to believe there is generally only one way to arrest an assault committed by a rational thinker - demonstrate the risk of the behavior is greater than the reward. I think even less of arresting an assault committed by an irrational person - generally you need to appeal to base instincts like emotions (often part of the trigger that initiates the assault). Maybe its fear of getting caught, maybe its fear of being hurt, maybe it's realizing you mother would not approve of your behavior. I think the best outcome from some of the passive defense positions is to give your assailant time to go through the decision process and realize the poor decision or allow the controlling emotion to subside - the big "if" hoping that they arrive to the same conclusion as you. I don't generally support passive defense tactics because the there are too many variables that rely on your partner. Something of a contradiction, but perhaps an illustration is that I would not encourage a novice to implement a passive strategy because the l feel the level of competency required is necessarily greater than the competency of a novice.

My semantics observation is more a personal frustration because we (aikido people) use soft, pliable and nebulous language so much that it loses non-contextual meaning. I have heard instructors talk philosophy and then turn around and do the exact opposite of what they just said. I think if our language more closely matched our actions... If we want to be compassionate, then experience the discomfort of your partner so you can feel how they feel. It's not fighting, but that doesn't mean it has no value. Similarly, when you frame your dialog about a personal belief you need to make sure everyone understands that perspective. If a critical component of your perspective about compassion involves God, those who train with you will need to learn about your perspective of God. Or, you will need to accept that not everyone shares your perspective about God and you need to find a better touchstone on which to build your lexicon.

I spend time on this because I think a failing of the aikido community is to consolidate around consistent language that allows for dialog without context. We're a big tent and that is easier said than done. Hell, you can't get two aikido people to even agree about what is aiki. It's like pornography, you know it when you see it.

Good luck getting your post back!

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Old 06-03-2015, 01:52 PM   #6
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Re: Aikido, Compassion in Self Defence.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Self-defense is an odd thing. Statistically, we regularly act within riskier scenarios than assault scenarios. Seatbelts, quitting smoking, better diets...
And statistically, assault is more likely to come from someone you know (and probably trust, at least to a degree), rather than the stereotypical stranger assault.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
There are several life choices that more directly contribute to making one "safer," than becoming competent in physical combat. "Self-defense" is an emotional appeal - it's a marketing tool targeting the fear of losing control over a situation.
...which probably explains the resistance to considering self-defense scenarios where the assailant is known and trusted. What's more deeply threatening and out of control than that?

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I happen to believe there is generally only one way to arrest an assault committed by a rational thinker - demonstrate the risk of the behavior is greater than the reward.
My old jo sensei told me about a situation where a very drunk former employee (whom he had fired) showed up at his house, wanting to beat the crap out of him. Now, of course very drunk and "rational thinker" aren't exactly a close match, and reasoning with really drunk people has its limits, but eventually my sensei did succeed by keeping it on a very basic level. Specifically, he told the guy that if they fought, two things would happen: one of them would go to the hospital, and he (ex-employee) would go to jail. That did the trick.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
My semantics observation is more a personal frustration because we (aikido people) use soft, pliable and nebulous language so much that it loses non-contextual meaning. I have heard instructors talk philosophy and then turn around and do the exact opposite of what they just said. I think if our language more closely matched our actions... If we want to be compassionate, then experience the discomfort of your partner so you can feel how they feel. It's not fighting, but that doesn't mean it has no value. Similarly, when you frame your dialog about a personal belief you need to make sure everyone understands that perspective. If a critical component of your perspective about compassion involves God, those who train with you will need to learn about your perspective of God. Or, you will need to accept that not everyone shares your perspective about God and you need to find a better touchstone on which to build your lexicon.
Well said. Fuzzy language and unspoken assumptions can't possibly result in clear communication.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
I spend time on this because I think a failing of the aikido community is to consolidate around consistent language that allows for dialog without context.
Eh, now here you lost me. I think that wishing for "the aikido community to consolidate around consistent language" is like wishing for a magical pony. It isn't going to happen. Far better to clarify one's own communication, particularly by clarifying assumptions and providing context.
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Old 06-03-2015, 02:39 PM   #7
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Re: Aikido, Compassion in Self Defence.

In the US, certainly our domestic violence and sexual assault has a high correlation with known assailants for our female survivors. I do think that our common-phrase "self-defense" schools avoid the complexity of intimate violence scenarios; better to keep our attackers in a big red suit. Although difficult, I still advocate that your best bet of arresting an assault situation is to make that benefit analysis clearly demonstrate the act is not worth the cost. Your personal relationship can be a factor in that decision (i.e. do you want to hurt your son/daughter/wife/husband/etc.?), but anyone who looks at DV stats knows that your relationship with the attacker may not be the factor you think it is.

Of course, thanks to the NFL, we know now that being involved in a conspiracy to deflate footballs is both a bigger story and worthy of greater penalty than punching your wife in the face so hard it knocks her unconscious. Talk about mismatching our talking and doing....

Last edited by jonreading : 06-03-2015 at 02:45 PM.

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Old 06-03-2015, 08:37 PM   #8
Janet Rosen
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Re: Aikido, Compassion in Self Defence.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Although difficult, I still advocate that your best bet of arresting an assault situation is to make that benefit analysis clearly demonstrate the act is not worth the cost..
I agree.
This is demonstrated by quietly using body language when someone seems to be evaluating you on the street for mugging or whatever, in order to have them go away (I twice have had strangers back away apologizing to me placatingly when I did nothing threatening, merely moved in a way to evade direct path and turn to face from a safe distance)
This is demonstrated by staying calm with the drugged up sociopath who really wants to physically lash out but knows there is a Colt 45 stashed somewhere within my reach and so restrains himself and leaves
This is demonstrated by a calm "I don't think you want to do that."

Thing is, I did all these things decades before bowing in to Aikido or any other martial art. So talking about a "novice" using them...well it depends on the novice.

In terms of self-defense, I'm going to be doing a 4 session intro at a program for young women who are clients of a youth-in-transition program for ages about 15-24. You better believe we are going to focus a LOT more about boundary setting with acquaintances and recognizing predatory sniffing around by friends vs kicking strangers in the balls.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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