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Old 02-16-2017, 05:10 AM   #1
leonagastya
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Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Hey everyone, so I'm new here and would just like to ask something. In Aikido we are taught to never hurt an opponent when defending ourselves. Instead in Aikido we want to neutralize the attack using the momentum of the opponent against him/herself without hurting them. But many of the techniques in Aikido , i.e the shihonage or even your basic mae ukemi can have disastrous effects on the opponent if its done incorrectly such as a broken shoulder or arm. And yes I know that in the dojo we are taught to properly do this, but how about for our opponents in a real fight which do not have previous knowledge in Aikido? They will get hurt by the amount of throws and locks we do to them since they won't know how to fall properly. Isn't this going against the peaceful philosophy Aikido is built upon as we are in fact harming other people, and if so what should I do?

Also, sorry for my bad english in this post, english isn't my first language. Moreover, I have limited experience in Aikido as I'm only in the 5th kyu so the things I say here might be solved with experience and the mastering of the art.

Thank you all for reading this far!
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:28 AM   #2
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Training accidents happen.

Regarding the possibility of really hurting people in a real fight with aikido techniques, I'd say the probabilities are so low that you do not need to worry about that.
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Old 02-16-2017, 06:46 AM   #3
Amir Krause
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

I think you should ask this of your teacher. Though, if the philosophy of not hurting others is this important to you, I suspect the only way you can be sure of it is staying put and being hit.

At least for me, I was always taught in a different spirit - the element of not hurting someone whom attacks me was replaced by the idea of giving me control over this hurt as part of the situational control the training provides, no different from many other martial arts. Then again, I am practicing a sister aikido martial art - Korindo Aikido, and not Ueshiba derived Aikido.

From practical self defense point of view, the idea of commiting not to hurt an agrresor is dangerous. And I say this even though I know there are other cases. For example: I do know a fellow trainee whom was able to evade attacks of an enraged younger and larger neighbor until that person got too tired to attack again, I don't think this is a strategy anyone with significant training would recommend , too high risk of an attack succeeding. The person whom defended himself this way said he did try to perform some techniques, but felt it was too risky to himself given the attacker jumping all over, while avoiding the attacks was so easy he didn't even break sweat. I should probably mention that fellow trainee was about Shodan (1st degree Black Belt ) at the time, and in Korindo Aikido we do have some types of sparring practices (we call those Randori, but same name often means a different thing in most Ueshiba derived Aikido).


In the end, I guess the question comes to philosophy Vs practicality in self defense, and the answer for that is with your teacher.

Last edited by Amir Krause : 02-16-2017 at 06:49 AM. Reason: unfinished sentence
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Old 02-16-2017, 07:16 AM   #4
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

IMHO, any martial art should contain the real possibility/potential of harm/hurt.
I often (simplistically - there is always more to it) think of timing and speed.
A technique done too fast will hit and do harm.
A technique done too slow will be resisted and countered.
A technique at the right speed/time encourages the opponent to cooperate/comply rather than break/hurt.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
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Old 02-16-2017, 07:21 AM   #5
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

In any real-life situation where an Aikido technique can be properly executed when an attacker may have no knowledge of Aikido, it would then become your responsibility to know how much pressure/force to apply to it. This is the only way to ensure that there is no undue harm done.

Would you agree?

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Old 02-16-2017, 08:32 AM   #6
Walter Martindale
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

I agree with Amir and Lynn. And with Lynn's comment that it's not a simple question.

I recall reading/hearing that the purpose of a Martial Art is to protect oneself and/or those around one.

To that end, talk rather than fight; run away rather than fight; if you have to interact physically, do as much as necessary with as little harm as possible/necessary to stop the need to interact physically: If you have to immobilize someone do so - if that's not enough (he/she has friends who also have bad intent), hurt them so they are out of the action - if that's not enough, harm them (i.e., break something, render them unconscious) - if that's not enough and you're still at risk of (say) being killed, well... escalate as much as necessary - but not fighting is the best solution.

Going beyond that, in my country, gets a charge of "Excessive use of force."

Attributed to Churchill: 'Jaw, jaw and war, war Jaw, jaw is better than war, war.' 1954, Washington. (Finest Hour 122, 15.)

Winston Churchill's official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, speaking of this quote, noted that Churchill actually said, 'Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war.' Four years later, during a visit to Australia, Harold Macmillan said the words usually—and wrongly—attributed to Churchill: “Jaw, jaw is better than war, war.” Credit: Harold Macmillan.

Do people get injured in aikido practice? Yes, I did - occasionally, and far less frequently than when I was practicing judo, but it IS a martial art - and training in a martial art is not without risk. One of my aikido sensei recommended mouthguards - not because we would deliberately bust someone's teeth, but because we're not perfect, and there's always the possibility of walking into someone's fist or elbow when the practice was aimed at not getting hit by the fist or elbow, and dentists cost a lot more than a plastic mouthguard.

Last edited by Walter Martindale : 02-16-2017 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 02-16-2017, 09:09 AM   #7
PeterR
 
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Training accidents happen.

Regarding the possibility of really hurting people in a real fight with aikido techniques, I'd say the probabilities are so low that you do not need to worry about that.
Well I am not so sure about that - training accidents can give you a window to that.

I think avoiding injury to an aggressor is as elusive as true aiki. Most of ukemi can be put down to a safe escape and it is a mistake to assume that an aggressor is versed in that.

I also don't think avoiding injury to an aggressor at all costs is really a major tenant of aikido - more like going out of your way to cause harm is not.

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Old 02-16-2017, 11:36 AM   #8
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

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Leonard Soetandi wrote: View Post
In Aikido we are taught to never hurt an opponent
Are you sure that is what your Aikido teachers are really saying? You should indeed talk to them about that.

At our dojo, I am often corrected in my ukemi for leaving too many openings. For example I didn't grab my partner's wrist correctly, so she elbowed me in the face. Because this was in class, the elbow strike didn't hurt, but it was enough to get the point across. On the street though, if somebody grabbed her wrist with bad intentions, I doubt she would hesitate for even a second to hit his face hard with that elbow. She was one of the many black belts at the dojo.

Last edited by GovernorSilver : 02-16-2017 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 02-16-2017, 04:28 PM   #9
sorokod
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Training accidents happen.

Regarding the possibility of really hurting people in a real fight with aikido techniques, I'd say the probabilities are so low that you do not need to worry about that.

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Old 02-16-2017, 04:36 PM   #10
sorokod
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Quote:
Leonard Soetandi wrote: View Post
... In Aikido we are taught to never hurt an opponent when defending ourselves. Instead in Aikido we want to neutralize the attack using the momentum of the opponent against him/herself without hurting them. But many of the techniques in Aikido , i.e the shihonage or even your basic mae ukemi can have disastrous effects on the opponent if its done incorrectly such as a broken shoulder or arm. And yes I know that in the dojo we are taught to properly do this, but how about for our opponents in a real fight which do not have previous knowledge in Aikido? They will get hurt by the amount of throws and locks we do to them since they won't know how to fall properly. Isn't this going against the peaceful philosophy Aikido is built upon as we are in fact harming other people, and if so what should I do?
Your logic is flawless - don't throw it out of the window just because someone told you to do so.

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Old 02-16-2017, 04:39 PM   #11
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Quote:
Leonard Soetandi wrote: View Post
Hey everyone, so I'm new here and would just like to ask something. In Aikido we are taught to never hurt an opponent when defending ourselves. Instead in Aikido we want to neutralize the attack using the momentum of the opponent against him/herself without hurting them. But many of the techniques in Aikido , i.e the shihonage or even your basic mae ukemi can have disastrous effects on the opponent if its done incorrectly such as a broken shoulder or arm. And yes I know that in the dojo we are taught to properly do this, but how about for our opponents in a real fight which do not have previous knowledge in Aikido? They will get hurt by the amount of throws and locks we do to them since they won't know how to fall properly. Isn't this going against the peaceful philosophy Aikido is built upon as we are in fact harming other people, and if so what should I do?

Also, sorry for my bad english in this post, english isn't my first language. Moreover, I have limited experience in Aikido as I'm only in the 5th kyu so the things I say here might be solved with experience and the mastering of the art.

Thank you all for reading this far!
Hello,

Aikido is almost inevitably practiced in a definite social and organizational context, for you do not usually go and seek out would-be attackers on the street, in order that you can show them your peaceful intentions.

I suggest you look in the Aikido Journal archives for an article by Stanley Pranin on fatal injuries suffered during aikido training in Japan. There have been such injuries and I think it is undeniable that sometimes people go out of their way to train in a dangerous manner, that causes serious injuries.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:01 PM   #12
rugwithlegs
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

In most martial arts, there is a force continuum. This is also true for law enforcement. Something like,

Better to not fight than fight
Better to fight and not cause harm than fight and cause harm
Better to cause pain than injure
Better to injure than maim
Better to maim than cripple
Better to cripple than kill

But the hardest of these is to fight and not cause harm.

Read the Darwin awards. People are very fragile. We die easily and stupidly all the time.

I don't remember the quote, so I took liberties. The idea is there.

I do not agree with teachers promise their students that they can avoid harming anyone. In psychiatry, a principle was that we would never restrain a patient without having enough staff for twice the height and twice the weight of the patient being restrained. Aikido does not usually teach working in a group like this. We also do not teach some ways of ending a conflict without injury, like lying, or intimidation, or terrifying a potential assailant to make them back off.

Last edited by rugwithlegs : 02-16-2017 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:25 PM   #13
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I suggest you look in the Aikido Journal archives for an article by Stanley Pranin on fatal injuries suffered during aikido training in Japan. There have been such injuries and I think it is undeniable that sometimes people go out of their way to train in a dangerous manner, that causes serious injuries.
Hello Peter,

If I remember correctly most of these injuries, and in some cases deaths, were related to the hazing of newbies.

Injuring someone who is not fighting back or even resisting is not the same than injuring someone in a fight.
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:29 PM   #14
rugwithlegs
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Hi Demetrio,

Regardless of how and why, the student is sometimes told that Aikido techniques are intrinsically harmless, instead of being told Aikido students should work towards an ethical standard or having options. I believe those students who believe a movement is harmless are less safe in practice than those who believe every movement can be potentially lethal.
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:39 PM   #15
leonagastya
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Thank you all for the wonderful responses, they have really helped me resolve this issue that's been bugging me since I first started. I guess a certain amount of pain has to be used to properly defend myself if I'm attacked and as an aikidoka I am responsible for the wellbeing of my opponent. I agree with the fact that I have to master the art before going into any conclusions as by then, I would know the right amount of force to apply to someone which would cause the least amount of pain. But of course I believe that a peaceful solution to end a fight is much better than a violent one.

Thanks everyone again!
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:50 PM   #16
sorokod
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Quote:
Leonard Soetandi wrote: View Post
...as an aikidoka I am responsible for the wellbeing of my opponent.
This is a heavy burden and suggest you think carefully before accepting it.

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Old 02-16-2017, 06:39 PM   #17
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Hello Peter,

If I remember correctly most of these injuries, and in some cases deaths, were related to the hazing of newbies.

Injuring someone who is not fighting back or even resisting is not the same than injuring someone in a fight.
Hello Demetrio,

Sure, but you narrowed down the issue to two scenarios: accidents and a 'fight' situation. I have implicitly added a third, which certainly happens in martial arts in Japan, not merely aikido, and reflects the way the arts are practiced here.

I think one issue in a 'fight' situation is whether you can actually do any supposedly 'lethal' waza.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 02-16-2017, 07:15 PM   #18
rugwithlegs
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Quote:
Leonard Soetandi wrote: View Post
I guess a certain amount of pain has to be used to properly defend myself if I'm attacked...

Thanks everyone again!
At your current level, maybe. If someone is the same size, strength, and speed as you then controlling them without causing any pain is hard. If they are bigger than you and stronger than you, your technique needs to be much better to compensate. Hopefully you can control an angry five year old without causing any pain or injury though.
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Old 02-17-2017, 12:28 AM   #19
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

I train with Nemoto Sensei at his Dojo in Iwama Japan and he inadvertently hurt my elbow with a technique. I am six foot ex rugby player first Kyu student. One of my first Japanese words learn't in Japan was Ito (sore), so when I trained with his other students they took care on the sore elbow. Other students from my Dojo also suffered similar fates.Part of the journey.

Motto tsuyoku
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Old 02-17-2017, 01:49 AM   #20
Cass
 
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

I agree with what a lot of people are saying, in that the aiki mindset encourages avoidance of fighting as much as possible to a safe extent. I think that would be for many the most difficult thing to stomach, especially after a certain degree of knowledge - to give your phone, money, etc. to someone when you know - or think you know - how to defend yourself, as a highly experienced aikidoka. You have to set aside the ego in that case and I honestly believe many of the yudansha I know would have a hard time doing this. If it is a personal safety scenario though and cannot be avoided - someone seeks to harm you in some way or worse - you ultimately do what you have to. I have heard it repeated many times (in particular on the Aikido reddit) that Kisshomaru once said "My father was not a pacifist". But ultimately, the philosophy, teaching and meanings that you can take from aikido encourage harmony and not destruction, thus the aforementioned approach that I agree with.

Safely neutralizing an attacker becomes difficult here (when others seek to do harm) because there is too much chaos involved. But, I think, with enough training and experience, you can have some "go to" moves that you can perform with as little damage done as possible. Some techniques are by default more difficult to receive safely, even from those that have training (think high fall-requiring techniques). Others can be easier to perform without great injury, techniques like Ikkyo I think are a good example. I think experience and confidence have a part to play in the safe neutralization of your attacker as well here. Several times that my sensei has begun to perform a technique that I had not personally encountered before, I was attacking without knowing what he was going to do. And - even though I was trying to pay attention to his response and was conditioned with knowing the general movements etc. - I would find myself transported without knowing what happened and not by brute force either. Simply one moment I was attacking and the next I was face down on the ground, no pain but also no option to resist somewhere along the way and no real idea what had just happened. I do not know if such a thing is completely possible in a real situation - at the very least, you are not on a tatami but hard ground, there must be at least some discomfort for the attacker, be it they are grazed on the concrete or bruised and sore from the technique.

As an aside, I recall reading some time back, there was a thread that sought the experiences of others using aikido in real life. Most people I am sure expected some sort of great interception of a theft or attacker or something exciting and dramatic, but the vast majority of the responses were along the lines of "I did ukemi when I tripped" or "I got hit by a car as a pedestrian/on a motorbike and safely did an ukemi out of the situation". Think about it in a personal manner as well - unless you come from a very dangerous environment of some sort, how often are you assaulted? Is it a common occurrence? I think most people will never have to use aikido in such a situation, though I do think being prepared can't hurt.



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Old 02-17-2017, 03:23 AM   #21
leonagastya
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Quote:
Hopefully you can control an angry five year old without causing any pain or injury though.
Now that is the the ultimate challenge. HAHAHAHAHA

Quote:
I think that would be for many the most difficult thing to stomach, especially after a certain degree of knowledge - to give your phone, money, etc. to someone when you know - or think you know - how to defend yourself, as a highly experienced aikidoka
Ahhh I see... so in most cases running away and avoiding a fight is better than staying and fighting.
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Old 02-17-2017, 05:06 AM   #22
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
I have heard it repeated many times (in particular on the Aikido reddit) that Kisshomaru once said "My father was not a pacifist".
If this is true (I would be grateful for an indication of a specific source), it is no wonder that aikido, which we practice today, does not make any sense as a martial art. Both Ueshiba's son and Koichi Tohei gave aikido the current shape. The latter, in a private conversation told me personally that he has never understood the intention of O-Sensei and explained that he is not teaching Morihei Ueshiba's art. He use the techniques, he copied from him, to the broader understanding the coordination of mind and body (Shin Shin Toitsu).

My arguments, which I posted on this forum, clearly show that the unique achievement of O-Sensei is closely linked with the idea of ​​pacifism and gives it real meaning. I will not quote a broader explanation, but for everyone it is clear that a person can not consider himself a pacifist if does not have a choice between hurting someone or not to do it. O-Sensei's Art let to end the fight before it had not yet begun. It makes sense to go back to the roots
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Old 02-17-2017, 05:39 AM   #23
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Quote:
Maciej Jesmanowicz wrote: View Post
If this is true (I would be grateful for an indication of a specific source),
IIRC the source is Ellis Amdur, who heard Kisshomaru saying that in a meeting.

Found it;

Quote:
Ellis Amdur
Member
Member # 402
posted October 13, 2003 12:17
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Osensei as Pacifist?
I recall a presentation 2nd Doshu gave to the Japan Martial Arts Society in the 1980's, and someone raised his hand as asked just when it was that Osensei became a pacifist. After the translation, Doshu looked rather puzzled, and asked for clarification, and the question was asked again. Doshu seemed to be suppressing giggles, and said, in effect that his father was never a pacifist, nor was aikido a pacifist practice. "After all, it is a martial art," he said. He then continued on to say, vaguely but accurately that his father created something new, that was outside the dualism of violence and non-violence
The original post seems to be not available because some time ago E-Budo site crashed.

Last edited by Demetrio Cereijo : 02-17-2017 at 05:45 AM.
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Old 02-17-2017, 06:08 AM   #24
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Found it;
Thank you.
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Old 02-17-2017, 08:23 AM   #25
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Re: Do we inadvertently hurt people in Aikido?

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
IIRC the source is Ellis Amdur, who heard Kisshomaru saying that in a meeting.

Found it;
...
I remember liking this quote a lot. Here are two more I filed away during the time this was very much on my mind:

Quote:
"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence.
A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy, he chooses non-violence."

- Yukiyoshi Takamura
Quote:
"The more evolved one becomes, the more evident it becomes that the strike may not be needed. Yet for the master of Aikido, this is a freely chosen decision. Aikido students who speak so proudly of their art as 'nonviolent' and 'peaceful' are actually referring to the mind of a very highly evolved master who has the internal confidence to nonviolently maintain control of the external influences despite the level of danger.
The irony often lost on those students is that this confidence is a result of having the capability of ending the threat at any moment with one strike.
It is the capability to destroy the threat that grants the Aikido master the luxury of saving the enemy's life. He may simply 'show' the enemy his opening without necessarily exploiting it.
This is a highly evolved level of any martial art which takes years of practice and practical experience. The beginners who claim they are practicing this are, frankly, talking over their heads."

- Shannon Kawika Phelps

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