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Old 09-09-2011, 01:06 PM   #26
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
Location: london
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,697
Re: Aikido Failure

Robin Boyd wrote: View Post
This morning I was waiting for the bus in Shibuya station and there was a guy sprawled on the pavement with his face down and his arm at an awkward angle. He was dirty, but not incredibly so. He might have been homeless, but if he was, it didn't look like he had been for very long.

There would have been thousands of people going past that stretch of pavement this morning and not one of them stopped to see if he was alright. I was a few meters away waiting for the bus, and I couldn't tell if he was asleep, unconscious or dead. From his position, I would say that he wasn't just asleep, but I can't say for sure. He may have had too much to drink and passed out.

So, what did I do? I got on the bus. I wanted to get to work on time. I made the wrong decision.

What is Aikido for if not for situations like these? To me, budo is about more than facing an attacker. It is about standing up and taking responsibility in difficult situations. This was a difficult situation, and I could have checked to see that he was okay, called an ambulance if necessary, or if not, then at least given him a bottle of water. I could have taken responsibility, but I didn't, and I regret it.

There is a word in Japanese called hanmen-kyoushi (反面教師). It is a person who does the wrong thing, and you learn from their example and do the opposite. Please use me as such.
Nice. A true budo view. Well done.

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Old 09-09-2011, 01:42 PM   #27
Thomas Campbell
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 407
Re: Aikido Failure

Mark Murray wrote: View Post
. . .
Reminds me of a zen (I think) story.

A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. . . .
You left out the final line where the senior monk says, "Don't worry, I've got her phone number."
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Old 09-09-2011, 02:00 PM   #28
thisisnotreal's Avatar
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 695
Re: Aikido Failure

don that was great.
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Old 09-09-2011, 02:11 PM   #29
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 193
Re: Aikido Failure

Thomas Campbell wrote: View Post
You left out the final line where the senior monk says, "Don't worry, I've got her phone number."
That would be Ikkyu then.


"At the age of 77, Ikkyu had a passionate relationship with a mistress named Lady Shin. She was a blind singer and composer and a very skilled musician, and she was in her late thirties. He wrote lots of beautiful graphic poetry celebrating their love, and it was in Lady Shin that Ikkyu finally located his own missing female self" (Aaah the elusive missing self, yin and yang UNITE, if only my teeth could bite themselves, my torch shine inward to light up that void)

"My naked passions, six inches long.
At night we meet on an empty bed.
A hand that's never known a woman's touch,
And a nuzzling calf, swollen from nights too long"
(I do not guarantee the translation) I know some of you guys are sticklers for that stuff !

Last edited by gates : 09-09-2011 at 02:14 PM.

Enjoy the journey
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Old 09-09-2011, 03:01 PM   #30
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
Location: Stamford Connecticut
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 386
Re: Aikido Failure

Having read the wise and moving entries on this thread, I'll just offer a story about one of my senpai's from New York Aikikai many years ago. She was about fourteen years older than myself, I think she might have been about Arikawa Sensei's age (at the time I remembered peoples ages by their Japanese zodiac years)

Keeping in mind she was much shorter than I. but had studied kendo, iaido and Japanese classical dance in addition to Aikido. And, she was walking closest to the building while I was walking closer to the street. It was I who noticed someone seemed to have fallen,next to the building and too dark to see clearly, but she who took action.

First I thought it was a drunk person, then two very thin people. One seemed to be strangling the other. Cassandra sprang into action and managed to pry the attacker's hands off the almost victim's throat. All I did was point at the would be perp wandering down the street.By that time there were some people gathered around, so one of them brought him to the lobby of a nearby building and the doorman asked, "Why'd ya do it, man?"

The almost perp replied in a flat monotone "Nothing else to do...." As I had suspected his mind was not all there, at least at the time, and probably due to drugs.

My senpai's comment was that the only thing she could think of to say at the time she acted was "You stop strangling that person!!!"
It was kind of endearing that a senpai would wonder if what she said at the time of saving a person sounded silly.

Anyway, that's a true story, and thanks everyone for being sincere, thoughtful and wise in sharing your opinions of what to do. As for myself, I didn't have confidence in my own ability to act, all I used was the power or suggestion and others carried out the action.

I guess if any of you are in a situation at that moment you will use your best judgment of your capability to act to help or remedy.

Last edited by Diana Frese : 09-09-2011 at 03:14 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 09-09-2011, 09:49 PM   #31
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 193
Re: Aikido Failure

Diana Frese wrote: View Post
It was I who noticed someone seemed to have fallen,next to the building and too dark to see clearly, but she who took action....
All I did was point at the would be perp wandering down the street......
I wouldn't underestimate the importance even of seemingly small acts. People have different skills... first somebody has to notice, otherwise nothing can be done about it.

Another little story
I was standing outside a nightclub. The bouncers had just escorted a couple of gents out the door. After a few minutes of bad language and posturing one of the chaps through a beer bottle at the bouncer, it missed his head by 6 inches and smashed on the wall behind him.

He saw red and reacted, rushed at the guy and pushed him over backwards. The chap fell down, his head landed just over the edge of the curb as a bus came around the corner, it missed running over his head, I kid you not, by a cats whisker. It was one of those slow motion moments.

I was 10 feet away, my jaw dropped as a mass brawl then ensured with fists flying everywhere and a dozen people fighting and grappling rolling around punching one another.

To be honest my instant reaction was a mixture of bewilderment and anger, how dare they behave like such animals when everybody else is out to have a nice time.

I shouted as loudly and authoritatively as I could, with a bellowing voice I shouted something out. I cant even remember what I said exactly, something silly along the lines of 'what do you think you are doing !! That guy just nearly got his run over by that bus" and from the depths of by belly I screamed (kiai-ed may be a better way to put it) 'STOP' in the most commanding voice I could.

Very much to by surprise, everybody suddenly stopped to see where the voice had come from, I remember the bouncer quite vividly as he perked up like a little mere cat, it was if they had woken from a dream (Jogged out of a fit of rage). Looking back I think that they must have thought it was the police.

Anywho naturally I was pretty happy with the end result. Fight stopped, and I managed to keep my distance and didn't get wacked or bottled for interfering.

Last edited by gates : 09-09-2011 at 09:51 PM.

Enjoy the journey
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Old 09-10-2011, 02:54 PM   #32
Dojo: Wexford Aiki
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 15
Re: Aikido Failure

I don't know what the aikido thing to do is in situations like this.

Working (and walking) through various cities, I pass by homeless people, panhandlers, and folks stretched out on the ground all the time. Sometimes it's a lot more salient to me than others. Many of those situations involve people who are in need of help. I guess that it's good to help in a situation where you can see that help is needed, and you have the capacity to respond while safeguarding yourself. On the other hand, it's also true that the world is full of need and suffering, and our own moral obligations cannot be defined purely in those terms. This seems like a basic problem of daily living that everybody has to struggle with from time to time.

You mentioned Kitty Genovese and bystander apathy somewhere in the thread. Me, I'm reminded of the old Milgram experiments, where average folks were frequently manipulated into administering (seemingly) lethal shock to another human being in the laboratory. The story goes that there were two groups of people who were broadly resistant to the Milgram effect: electricians and physicians. The supposition was not that those folks were more ethical than anybody else, but merely that they were more knowledgeable about electrocution, and therefore better able to assert themselves and to recognize danger in the laboratory situation. Maybe that's the best that any of us can strive for -- heightened awareness of the vulnerability of others, of our own potential for apathy, and of the need to intervene when intervention seems called for.

Makes me think of a different kind of episode. I was on the street in a somewhat deserted city neighborhood, returning to a parked car after a business meeting. A woman on the street charged up, began screaming obscenities and demanding money, placed herself between me and the car I was trying to reach, and was being as physically aggressive as she could be without actually touching me (attack posture, leaning in to put her face in mine, etc.). Kind of scary, and at the time I wasn't sure if she was on drugs, or maybe in withdrawal, or what. I mostly avoided eye contact with her, continued walking around her without adopting an aggressive posture, politely said "no" in response to her repeated demands for money, and eventually got myself into the car without physical incident. She cursed and stormed off.

Was that a successful or aikido-like encounter? I don't know. I know that I didn't want to hit her, or to be hit by her. I suspect that that came across to her, and that she had just enough self-control not to go over the line into a physical assault. But did she need help? Probably. Might she have presented a subsequent threat to others? Maybe. Should I have called the police? I don't know. It's easy for me to imagine ways that the immediate encounter could have gone much worse. But could I have responded better? Maybe. It's hard to say.
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Old 09-10-2011, 09:35 PM   #33
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 716
Re: Aikido Failure

Michael Greenberg wrote: View Post

Working (and walking) through various cities, I pass by homeless people, panhandlers, and folks stretched out on the ground all the time. Sometimes it's a lot more salient to me than others. Many of those situations involve people who are in need of help.
Me too actually. Usually they have found a corner to curl up in and try to stay out of people's way in Tokyo though. They usually just want to be left alone.

It took me a while to notice it, but this guy was different. He was face down on the pavement, in a noisy, sunny area with heaps of people walking around.
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