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Old 12-17-2017, 01:40 AM   #1
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Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

I have been studying Aikido for almost 15 years now and over the last 12 -- 14 months I have really progressed where I am, for now, focused on the nonphysical study of Aikido. This includes the study of violence, physics and for one of a better term spiritual aspects.

During the study of violence I have come to a point that I am having difficulty understanding, that is, violence that manifests as rape, murder, torture, sexual assault etc.

I am asking for others on this forum how the above violence fits into Aikido principles and how the individual (being the victim of the violence or a close family member) is able to process the violence through Aikido principles.

I thank all who contribute in advance as I know this topic is a very hard one for some and in general.

Thank you very much.
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Old 12-17-2017, 11:30 PM   #2
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

I think your question is one that no one in aikido has really resolved. For example, Nidai Doshu described being a small child and some non-Japanese boys from a nearby residence began picking on him, and his father came running out to rescue him in full kimono and hakama - and slipped and fell in a mud-puddle, the bullies escaping.

Ellis Amdur

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Old 12-18-2017, 10:09 AM   #3
sorokod
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

Aikido , like any other martial art , requires violence in the same way a car engine requires petrol.
Consequently, the first step is to accept violence as something that may come your way and needs
to be dealt with ( and not avoided) within the framework of Aikido.

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Old 12-18-2017, 10:21 AM   #4
nikyu62
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

Flowers may fall but the tree remains.....be the tree, not the flower.
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Old 12-20-2017, 12:23 PM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

Greetings,
We usually think of violence as a physical/behavioral force to inflict harm/damage, but we can certainly expand that to verbal and emotional violence.
IMHO, rape is more about power and control on the part of the offender/perpetrator/predator.
To understand/explain (not excuse) that type of violent power/control we may need to look deeper into the pain/fear of offender/perpetrator/predator that is being acted-out/projected on the world/victims. Therefore we may need to address the underlying cognitive/emotional abuse they experienced that taught them to go to the offender side rather than the empathy of the victim identification.
But, that is not the realm of the Aikido dojo/sensei, but a truly skilled mental health and criminology professional.
Needless to say the idea of connecting/empathizing, self-control versus other-control, non-resistance/force, and redirection without doing harm is the opposite strategy/tactics of the rapist. While many martial arts tend to use more of the same (violence/power/control to overcome violence/power/control) behavior, Aikido does require us to develop a different perception/strategy for overcoming our own tendencies and in dealing with the pain/fear that is the root of violence/power/control/suffering in others.
This may not make much sense, but its an initial attempt to dialogue on an important issue.
Hope it helps in some small way.

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 12-21-2017, 12:09 PM   #6
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

Aikido training has allowed me to see myself as a thriver instead of a victim. I have had a profound change in my self image since I started training 30 years ago. The decision to step out of learned behavior and to commit to a life long training regimen has healed me and helped me to become peaceful instead of vengeful.

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Old 12-27-2017, 01:55 PM   #7
Susan Dalton
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

I agree, Mary. I have had exactly the same experience, now seeing myself as a thriver rather than a victim. When I have dealt with perpetrators in the past, I have always been very afraid. Luckily, I have not dealt with any in many, many years. Last year, I was sitting outside in my hot tub. Some guy was standing in the bushes separating our yard from the business next door, only about fifteen feet away from me, staring at me. He kept staring and moving closer. He seemed to be getting ready to climb over my chain-link fence. Instead of feeling fear, I was enraged. Right then my husband and dog came outside, and the guy ran away. I told my husband, "Yeah, he was afraid of you, but if he came over the fence, I was the one who was going to be holding the net (it's on a long pole)."
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Old 12-27-2017, 07:19 PM   #8
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I have been studying Aikido for almost 15 years now and over the last 12 -- 14 months I have really progressed where I am, for now, focused on the nonphysical study of Aikido. This includes the study of violence, physics and for one of a better term spiritual aspects.

During the study of violence I have come to a point that I am having difficulty understanding, that is, violence that manifests as rape, murder, torture, sexual assault etc.

I am asking for others on this forum how the above violence fits into Aikido principles and how the individual (being the victim of the violence or a close family member) is able to process the violence through Aikido principles.

I thank all who contribute in advance as I know this topic is a very hard one for some and in general.

Thank you very much.
Hello,

I have been studying aikido for nearly fifty years now and have certainly studied violence. However, I did not embrace aikido as a spiritual art: while at university I met a Japanese student, who had a 3rd dan and who wanted to continue training—and things developed from there. I trained because I liked doing so—and found aikido sufficiently attractive to decide to come and live here permanently, so I could study the art within its home culture, so to speak. This was a major step, really, considering that next to my parents in the family grave in the UK lies an uncle of mine I never knew, who I believe died as a prisoner of the Japanese in World War II, but this was never talked about.

Living here as a resident requires a really deep study of the language and culture and this is where a ‘westerner’ (for want of a better term) is at a disadvantage: there is a vast amount of learning and unlearning to be done and some of this is so deep that it can affect one’s sense of identity as a person.

All my teachers have been Japanese and those living outside Japan struggled to find a home in an alien culture. (My struggle has been from the opposite direction.) They were sufficiently at home with the spiritual aspects of the art that they very rarely saw the need to talk about it, especially on the tatami. They simply referred to aikido as a Japanese budo, but left unexplained the meaning and cultural implications of this term: it was for the students to do the explorations themselves, to the extent that they needed to, not for them to explain it.

I have spent a substantial part of my life studying spirituality, especially mystical theology as this is understood in the Christian church. On the other hand, since I knew / know all the ‘aikido’ members of the Ueshiba family except Morihei, I was led through aikido to the study of the Omoto religion and its links with Buddhism and Shinto. Of course, there is much common ground, but there are also vast differences.

I have studied spirituality probably sufficiently for several lifetimes, and I do not explain any of these aspects of the art to my own students, who are all Japanese in any case and do not need any explanations from me. They have a vague idea of the difference between a jutsu and a do, but I doubt whether any of them practice aikido because they think it is a spiritual art. In any case, they would never tell me if they did, and so I am left to deduce their motivations for training from the way they behave in the dojo. They keep coming to the dojo and progress up through the grading system, so I assume that what I am teaching them—or rather, what they are learning from me (the two are not the same) is of some value.

University students who practice aikido as a club activity tend to do it more intensely than students in a ‘general’ dojo and this fact led to an incident that directly concerns the violent aspects of training. You must be aware that there are some basic waza that can be extremely dangerous if executed very hard and with no awareness of your uke’s real situation. I put it this way because some senior students at the university medical club thought that one of their juniors was lazy or malingering, because he did not execute flying ukemi with the same zest as his dojo buddies. (In fact, I taught him English and he told me that he found aikido very attractive, but he found ukemi quite frightening.) Well, I heard that during a summer camp this student was subjected to repeated ukemi from shiho-nage and that this led to a fatal conclusion: he died the following day from brain damage caused by severe concussion.

In the UK, this would have led to a major court case, but this did not happen here. In fact, the boy’s parents began to practice the art as a way of understanding what happened to their son—who was bright and would probably have gone on to become a successful doctor. The university paid out a large sum in compensation, but the point I want to make here is that none of the students who threw the boy admitted any individual responsibility for their collective actions, which on another interpretation amounted to severe bullying. It was as if the student had been given a stark choice: train in the way that the traditions of the club required, or leave. The university banned the club for one semester, but nothing really changed as a result of this incident.

One of the features of Christian moral theology is that sin is never explained away: people do evil things and this has to be accepted and dealt with. Similarly, I do not think there is much point in studying a martial art in the belief that one can practice a ‘spiritual’ art, if this means ignoring the potential violence that goes with it. This is one thing that none of my Japanese teachers ever attempted to do. They never tried to process the potential violence in aikido by denying its existence.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 12-27-2017 at 07:24 PM.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 12-28-2017, 06:28 AM   #9
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

Yes, Susan, I understand. The whole mind set is different.

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Old 12-28-2017, 04:38 PM   #10
Susan Dalton
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

Oh Peter, that story is so sad. As someone who in the beginning was terribly afraid of ukemi myself, I believe we must not push people too far until they are comfortable and even then we must always be aware and careful. Maybe I am too careful, but I have had many fearful students who learned to trust enough to fly. We must be worthy of that trust.

I had this conversation last night. I was not teaching, but another student told me she thought one of our younger, very athletic women was being pushed a little farther than she was comfortable. So next technique, I worked with her. She said, no, no, it was her, she was just a little off. I told her it wasn't her. She needed to listen to her body and it is always OK to ask someone to lighten up a bit or slow down, even if that person outranks you, even if that person is teaching; speak up no matter when you feel unsafe. Your safety comes first. However, sometimes people do not want to appear wimpy or disrespectful and so keep their concerns to themselves. I've been guilty myself.

I believe most people do not want to hurt anyone. I'm not talking about a little fleeting pain--I mean really hurt someone. We've had a few we've had to ask to leave because they would not conform to our expectations of safety and respect, but really, most people who hurt others do so because they are unaware or because what happens is totally an accident. So, by speaking up, you are helping your partner develop awareness. It's part of the feedback loop that allows someone to improve his or her aikido.

An atmosphere where speaking up is not acceptable is unsafe for everyone. You and I have had a conversation before about the danger of college clubs with young, gung ho students, and fairly inexperienced instructors. I'm so sorry such a terrible thing happened.
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Old 12-28-2017, 04:45 PM   #11
Susan Dalton
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Yes, Susan, I understand. The whole mind set is different.
Mary, I had this student who was very fearful. She had been through awful things. The first time we did jyu waza, she cried. But she persevered. After a couple years of aikido, she was walking down the hall during class change. I was a few people behind her and I saw a large guy using his body to try to maneuver her into a corner, probably to talk to her. I don't think he intended her harm, but she's a tiny person and he's huge. I was hurrying ahead to intervene when I heard, "DON'T BLOCK MY PATH!" and she walked right through him. I laughed so hard...
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Old 12-28-2017, 06:50 PM   #12
Janet Rosen
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

Quote:
Susan Dalton wrote: View Post
Mary, I had this student who was very fearful. She had been through awful things. The first time we did jyu waza, she cried. But she persevered. After a couple years of aikido, she was walking down the hall during class change. I was a few people behind her and I saw a large guy using his body to try to maneuver her into a corner, probably to talk to her. I don't think he intended her harm, but she's a tiny person and he's huge. I was hurrying ahead to intervene when I heard, "DON'T BLOCK MY PATH!" and she walked right through him. I laughed so hard...
oooooooooh awesome. She learned how to go Brooklyn on somebody

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-29-2017, 05:48 AM   #13
Currawong
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

That story reminds me of one of my early experiences after I started Aikido in high school. I recall during the break between classes going towards the science block and having to push my way through students bursting through the doors, themselves on the way to different parts of the school. After I started Aikido, I had the idea (based on things my sensei had said) to project energy outwards, and the next time I went to the science block and everyone got out of my way!

Violence, to me, is a form of disharmony within a person expressed outwardly. Aikido, to me, is a form of developed integral strength that overwhelms and takes control of of the disharmony, like a white blood cell consumes an invading cell inside one's body.

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Old 12-29-2017, 07:40 AM   #14
Susan Dalton
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
oooooooooh awesome. She learned how to go Brooklyn on somebody
Yeah, not something most Southern women are taught. I am trying to rectify that, one person at a time... Seriously, when I first try to get them to kiai, most of my female students either make no noise at all or they squeak. Kiai is not a big part of what we do at the dojo, but it is in my college class. For me, it helped me learn to take up my space.
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Old 12-29-2017, 07:53 AM   #15
Susan Dalton
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

Quote:
Amos Barnett wrote: View Post
Violence, to me, is a form of disharmony within a person expressed outwardly. Aikido, to me, is a form of developed integral strength that overwhelms and takes control of of the disharmony, like a white blood cell consumes an invading cell inside one's body.
I really like that analogy. This topic is an important one, I think, and there are no easy answers. Yes, violence exists. In the beginning I wanted to get so skilled, no one would bother me. I thought surely by the time I got to sandan I would have magical powers. Nope, didn't happen then and still hasn't happened.

I can't control violent people. But I can control myself and my reaction to them. I can develop my awareness. Dealing with violent people in my childhood taught me to be (or appear to be) calm and diffuse situations before they escalate to a point of no return. That's still a valuable skill. Staying centered is the most important part, I think. But now instead of running away terrified, I can enter. For me, aikido is less about combating violence in others and more about developing awareness and centeredness in ourselves.
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Old 12-30-2017, 07:15 AM   #16
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

And to continue that train of thought...I can look at my responses to violence and then choose my behavior.

One day the man who raped my daughter when she was 14 sat beside me in at 12 step meeting. I stayed and sat and watched my thoughts and felt my feelings. My making a scene there would not have helped anyone but my staying and sitting changed me.

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Old 12-30-2017, 07:29 AM   #17
Susan Dalton
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
And to continue that train of thought...I can look at my responses to violence and then choose my behavior.
Hugs to you, Mary. I can't imagine how hard that must have been for you. That's one of Aikido's gifts to us, too, isn't it? Realizing we are capable of more than we knew.
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Old 01-30-2018, 04:21 AM   #18
StefanHultberg
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
And to continue that train of thought...I can look at my responses to violence and then choose my behavior.

One day the man who raped my daughter when she was 14 sat beside me in at 12 step meeting. I stayed and sat and watched my thoughts and felt my feelings. My making a scene there would not have helped anyone but my staying and sitting changed me.
Mary, WOW!

My deepest respect.

Stefan
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Old 01-31-2018, 09:29 AM   #19
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Moral and Ethical issue (warning topic on intimate violence)

Thank you, Stefan. I am not sure how to respond because it is nothing I dd. I just have learned a lot and have much more to learn.

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