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Old 11-21-2001, 10:59 AM   #1
AskanisoN
Dojo: USA Martial Arts
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Aikido in the Military

Hi all,

I came accross this article and was curious if anyone has any experience with or knows of what Aikido techniques if any are taught to Marines or other service branches in the U.S. or other countries.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/...08-marines.htm

Also, I was a little miffed by this statement. I certainly don't feel that way about my training. Please tell me what you think.

Quote:
"Most people who train in a dojo are not equipped for self-defense," says Richard Heckler, a psychologist and black belt in Japanese aikido who worked as a consultant on the Marine program.
Thx,

Scott
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Old 11-21-2001, 12:47 PM   #2
shihonage
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Re: Aikido in the Military

Quote:

Also, I was a little miffed by this statement. I certainly don't feel that way about my training. Please tell me what you think.
I think that we don't study eye-gouging, throat-hitting, wrist-biting, face-knawing, as well as we don't study the psychological/physiological aspects that are present in a real fight and which play a much larger role in determine its outcome than your ability to do iriminage.

Taken literally, Aikido training is not self-defense. However if you've been attacked before, you kind of have an understanding of the chaos/intensity/fear that ensues and have a more realistic view of how Aikido can help you in such a situation in the future.

I've noticed that people who's never been attacked actually never, ever have the urge to try and practice being an aggressive/fast/extremely dedicated uke, or to have someone come at them fast, and see how their timing holds up.
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Old 11-21-2001, 04:03 PM   #3
AskanisoN
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Hi Shihonage,

Thanks for your reply.

I took his quote to be more of a generalization about martial arts in the civilian world and not neccisarily just Aikido, but it would'nt be the first time I was wrong about something. The fact that he happens to be a black belt in Aikido just confuses me further as to why he would say that. It kinda makes me wonder why he is advising the Marine Corps. Maybe he should have said, "Most people who train in a dojo are not equipped for war", because thats what millitary training is for.

Ask someone from a martial art like Jeet Kune Do that does teach eye gouging, throat hitting, and etc. if they think that training in a dojo doesn't equip them for self-defense. The answer would probably be a kick in the groin!

Anyway, I've only been in a few fights in my short 27 yrs (before I'd even heard of Aikido), but I do feel very confident that my Aikido training would hold up to a serious attack.

Thx,

Scott
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Old 11-21-2001, 04:38 PM   #4
shihonage
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Quote:
Originally posted by AskanisoN
Anyway, I've only been in a few fights in my short 27 yrs (before I'd even heard of Aikido), but I do feel very confident that my Aikido training would hold up to a serious attack.
Mine too - as long as I don't get hit .
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Old 11-21-2001, 04:48 PM   #5
AskanisoN
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Yeah, gettin eye gouged or kicked in the groin doesn't help either!


Last edited by AskanisoN : 11-21-2001 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 11-21-2001, 07:01 PM   #6
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Aikido in the Military

Quote:
----------------------------------------------
"Most people who train in a dojo are not equipped for self-defense," says Richard Heckler, a psychologist and black belt in Japanese aikido who worked as a consultant on the Marine program
This is a statement typical of those who do not have a very broad sense of Aikido and the range of different styles that exist.

As some of us may know, Aikido dojo can range from the "touchy feely" to the "sheer hell" type of training depending on where you go, so generalising, as in the case of this quote, doesn't actually say much. Not to mention the fact that self defence and war, though fundamentally similar, are two totally different areas of mind/body conditioning.

As far as it's military application goes I am not sure, but I do know that Yoshinkan Aikido is taught to the Tokyo police force and Shodokan Aikido is taught to the Osaka police force. I've also heard that the Korean (not sure if it's north or south) riot police use Tae Kwon Do to take down mobs by walking in lines into them with shields and kicking the legs out from those in the front line (of course those of you who may know better, please feel free to comment).

In my country, many students are from the local military and protective services and all have come to do Aikido from experience in unarmed combat and other MA backgrounds, most in an effort to "complete" their martial arts knowledge/training. I guess there's some reason why they think doing Aikido will add to their hand to hand combat skills.

So I guess there is some case for Aikido's effectiveness in military application, but it depends on a number of factors which include the motive behind the military's training and the particular style of Aikido used to achieve the aims of those motives.

My $0.02
Domo
L.C.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
http://www.mushinkan.ca
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Old 11-29-2001, 06:29 PM   #7
Speireag
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Re: Re: Aikido in the Military

Quote:
A quote from Heckler Sensei: "Most people who train in a dojo are not equipped for self-defense," says Richard Heckler, a psychologist and black belt in Japanese aikido who worked as a consultant on the Marine program.

Comment by L. Camejo

This is a statement typical of those who do not have a very broad sense of Aikido and the range of different styles that exist.
Perhaps. Note that qualifies his statement: "most people". He does not say that you cannot equip yourself for self-defense in a dojo. He simply says that most of the people who train there aren't so equipped.

I have taught self-defense in the past, from basic tactical precautions through the use of lethal force. I work in law enforcement and it's a topic near and dear to my heart. In my experience, Heckler Sensei's comment is correct.

However, I do not think that this would be an accurate characterization of Heckler Sensei. I studied briefly at Aikido of Tamalpais, years ago before he moved on, and attended some of his classes. He struck me very favorably, though at age 16 I was probably not in a good position to judge anyone.

More importantly, Heckler Sensei has significant experience teaching Aikido to the American military, as military training per se, for direct application in military situations. He was one of the teachers in an experimental Green Beret training program in 1985. You can read about it in the book he wrote afterward: _In Search of the Warrior Spirit_. I found it a very interesting read. I don't know if he continued to consult and teach in the military, but it would not surprise me.

Quote:
As some of us may know, Aikido dojo can range from the "touchy feely" to the "sheer hell" type of training depending on where you go, so generalising, as in the case of this quote, doesn't actually say much.


Well, it does say that just training in Aikido won't necessarily develop self-defense skills. But we should already know that. In developing anything, you must study intently, with purpose and discretion, or you depend completely on fortune to get what you want. In this context, that means that you must look for a good teacher, study hard, and occasionally validate your studies (to the extent that you can do that safely and ethically). I think you would agree that there are many people who don't do those things.

Quote:
In my country, many students are from the local military and protective services and all have come to do Aikido from experience in unarmed combat and other MA backgrounds, most in an effort to "complete" their martial arts knowledge/training. I guess there's some reason why they think doing Aikido will add to their hand to hand combat skills.
It sounds as though you are exceptionally lucky to have people to train with who are martially competent. Good training!

-Speireag.

Speireag Alden
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Old 11-29-2001, 10:53 PM   #8
nikonl
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Unhappy

It's quite sad to see someone who has a 'black belt?' in Aikido bringing down the image of dojos and the art in general.
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Old 11-30-2001, 07:30 PM   #9
Speireag
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Quote:
Originally posted by nikon
It's quite sad to see someone who has a 'black belt?' in Aikido bringing down the image of dojos and the art in general.
Well, bear in mind that it's an article in the popular press. It's not aimed at martial artists, and so the editor will choose terms which the general population can follow. The general population can't follow much beyond "black belt". Heckler Sensei is fifth dan. He co-founded Aikido of Tamalpais, which is a well-regarded dojo now affiliated with ASU. He is head instructor at Two Rock Aikido in Petaluma, California.

He certainly did not intend to bring down the image of Aikido. I don't believe that his comment will have that result, either, if it's taken in the context of the article where it appeared.

-Speireag.

Speireag Alden
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Old 12-02-2001, 02:12 AM   #10
nikonl
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Ai symbol

But how could he say that people(he didn't say some) who trained in dojos aren't equipped for self-defense. If i were someone who hadn't even heard of aikido, i would surely have a wrong impression about it after reading that article. He shouldn't have said it in a manner of 'Aikido in general'.

And he shouldn't have said our training is choreographed ,as it is untrue.

I wonder where is the "Ai' in his interview and the job he is doing. He certainly didn't show the spiritual side of Aikido, which is a very important part of Aikido and is lacking these days.
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Old 12-02-2001, 06:28 PM   #11
Speireag
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Quote:
Originally posted by nikon
But how could he say that people(he didn't say some) who trained in dojos aren't equipped for self-defense.
He didn't say "all", either. See:

Quote:
"Most people who train in a dojo are not equipped for self-defense," says Richard Heckler, a psychologist and black belt in Japanese aikido who worked as a consultant on the Marine program.
In my experience, he's right. Like most people you pass on the street, most people who train in a dojo have never had the experience of being in a lethal combat. There is a martial mindset. The people who don't have it can learn to have it through the right experiences -- it can be trained -- but Aikido practice by itself is not generally sufficient.

One program I have heard of which can help uncork that mindset is Model Mugging. A lot of their training is psychological, and directly oriented toward breaking down the unconscious barriers which are socialized into us from birth. These barriers often keep us from hurting each other, which is good, but they can also short-circuit full participation in a martial situation, which will prevent correct action.

Make no mistake; in my view, Aikido practice is essential and fundamental if you want to learn to resolve conflict ethically. But by itself, it does not prepare you for understanding and dealing with the reality of someone trying to kill you.

Quote:
If i were someone who hadn't even heard of aikido, i would surely have a wrong impression about it after reading that article. He shouldn't have said it in a manner of 'Aikido in general'.
The reporter did not call him up and ask for a single sentence. What you have is the reporter's quotation of a single sentence from a longer interview. The reporter was clearly using hyperbole to make her point, drawing an exaggerated contrast between battlefield combat practice and dojo practice. To illustrate her point, she quoted Heckler Sensei, necessarily without the full context. You should be cautious in judging anyone who is quoted in that way; the reporter can easily make it sound other than it was intended, whether intentionally or honorably.

Quote:
And he shouldn't have said our training is choreographed ,as it is untrue.
He didn't. Going back to the article again, I believe that you're thinking of a quote from someone else:

Quote:
"On the battlefield, there is no dirty fighting," Urso says. Real martial arts are "not pretty, not choreographed. But it's what a Marine needs to survive."
Quote:
I wonder where is the "Ai' in his interview and the job he is doing. He certainly didn't show the spiritual side of Aikido, which is a very important part of Aikido and is lacking these days.
He didn't have the opportunity to "show the spiritual side of Aikido". He didn't write the article. I don't know if you have any experience being excerpted by the media. I have, and I can tell you that your message never comes through the way you wanted it to. Any time someone quotes what you say, some of the context is necessarily lost, and with it some of the meaning.

If you want to see him talk about teaching Aikido and thinking deeply about its spiritual aspects, I suggest that you read one of his books. For this particular topic, I'll recommend again _In Search of the Warrior Spirit_. Otherwise, you're judging him on a single out-of-context quote by a reporter who was trying to make a point about a program which she understood imperfectly.

Best wishes and good training,

-Speireag.

Speireag Alden
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Old 12-03-2001, 12:31 AM   #12
AskanisoN
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Hi Speireag,

Please understand that I was not trying to belittle Heckler Sensei through my comments. I've never met the man, and would not attempt to judge his teaching ability nor his character based upon a small quote in an article. I hope that this is not the impression I gave you. To me, the quote itself just seems contradictory to my experience with Aikido.

Thankyou for the insite.

Scott
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Old 12-03-2001, 08:54 AM   #13
nikonl
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Talking

ok, so it's the reporter's fault.

Another case of miscommunication...
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Old 12-03-2001, 06:48 PM   #14
JW
 
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It looks like the results of the current poll will
show that most of us roughly agree with Heckler
Sensei's quote. Well, that is, provided he meant
"Aikido dojo" when he said "dojo" as the reporter
might lead us to believe. Personally I am surprised
to see the 100% votes--though I suppose that
maybe the question could have had alternative
interpretations.
Here's how I know that I am not (yet) prepared
for self defense form my Aikido training:
- How often do I have to think "oops, wasn't
ready.." (hopefully this isn't often at all. But:..)
- How often do my techniques work REALLY
REALLY well in class (if they don't work *REALLY*
well in class, how could I think that they are
self-defense-effective)?
- How often can I get a feel for how a technique
would go if my uke actually had no desire *at all*
for the technique to work?
- Do I ever work with attacks that I might see
outside the dojo?

In short: you gotta be really good to be able to say
that in general you are ready to defend yourself.
That's how I feel at least, from the amount of times
I feel that dojo training isn't a piece of cake at all..
If I can't get it quite right in the dojo (which is
always the case), then I am not yet ready to defend
myself with Aikido.

Then again there are plenty of inspiring Aikido
stories out there..
--Jonathan Wong
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Old 12-03-2001, 09:31 PM   #15
Abasan
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Interesting that this post has 'degenerated ' into one that questions the self defence applicability of the martial art aikido.

We were trying it out yesterday and our amateur research concluded that:
1. in the absence of good technique, strength prevails.
2. gentle pins practice by the aikikai style can be broken by a determined and strong uke
3. but that said uke would have hard time, were we to use painful alternative pins practiced by OSensei; this holds true with the techniques as well
4. most of us practice by rote and forget that in real life, the attacker is not programmed to respond in a predetermined fashion. He may be off balance in another direction, he may release his hands, he maybe able to block your 'single' atemi to the face and all sorts of things.

The problem here is not that we don't practice all of this variations. We just can't since there's an infinitum of them. The problem here is that some of us practice by rote instead of training the underlying principles of what makes aikido work.

I also noticed that most us when stuck midway in a technique, stand there resolutely to make it go all the way. Of course this is good if you're trying to learn the mechanics of it and correct your mistakes. Its not good if this is the way you'll defend yourself in a real situation. To keep moving and allowing yourself to freedom and choice of any technique would be better.

Btw I totally agree on how the media can totally distort things depending on how they want their points to come across to the audience. For instance, we all know that inflections can change the meaning of certain sentences, and inflections don't come across naturally in written form.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 12-07-2001, 02:13 AM   #16
Speireag
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Quote:
Originally posted by AskanisoN
Hi Speireag,

Please understand that I was not trying to belittle Heckler Sensei through my comments.
Not to worry; I've mainly been replying to others. I've learned over years of being online not to judge people too quickly on the basis of text-based correspondence, which is necessarily very limited.

Good training,

-Speireag.

Last edited by Speireag : 12-07-2001 at 02:15 AM.

Speireag Alden
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Old 01-02-2002, 03:53 AM   #17
Tim Griffiths
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Quote:
Originally posted by nikon

And he shouldn't have said our training is choreographed ,as it is untrue.
I'll pick up on this sentence, as others have picked up on
the other things.

Our training is choreographed. Almost all of it. We know
what the attack is, what should happen in the middle,
and how it should end. Sometimes it goes wrong, but
your sensei is happiest when he sees you doing it
'correctly' (i.e. with the planned movements and results).
Especially for beginners, but for everyone else too.
Even randori is a random collection of choreographed
set-pieces or "techniques".

I don't know of any dojo that spend more than 20% of
their time on unchoreographed practice.

Please note I'm NOT suggesting that a) Choreographed
practice is a bad thing or b) its unrealistic. We have
lots of real life anecdotes that say something like
"he attacked me like ...[ ]..., exactly like in the dojo, and
I ....[ ]...., exactly like in the dojo.


Tim
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Old 02-27-2002, 04:22 PM   #18
Krzysiek
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Confused Do you want Aikido in the military?

So I have to admit in posting this that I'm a college student who is familiar with the long ugly history of US (and other) armed forces.



My question to the forum is this: Do we WANT Aikido to be taught in the military?



The military is very unlikely to ever become any more Aiki than it has ever been. They are stuck in a structure which answers only to our Commander in Chief (Currently Bush) and our foreign policy (Which currently centers around less than laudable goals.)



I'm going to leave this short for now. Once again I express my opinion:



Sincerely,
Krzysiek
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Old 02-27-2002, 05:31 PM   #19
guest1234
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I would like to see Aikido taught to our military, and have spent the last year and a half trying to find a way to get clearance for an instructor to at least come out to demo. I think the services are made up of the same kind of people you find all around you, with the same fears and needs and aspirations. They work longer hours for less pay than most, and voluntarily give up many personal rights and freedoms so that civilians can enjoy them.

And despite very pretty recruiting campaigns, the profession of the military is war. We do different tasks in accomplishing that, but first, formost, and always, our purpose is to go to war and fight in the service of our country, following the orders of our commanders, including the Commander in Chief, and giving up our lives if called upon to do so in that service. For many, at wages that qualify their families for food stamps. Pilots and doctors make around half to one quarter of the pay 'on the outside', while often spending 230 plus days separated from their families.

Am I personally happy with all of the decisions made in which wars to fight? No, but I blame the people of the United States who elected those who set our foreign policy (and last time I looked, most college students could vote, they just didn't . In the early days of Desert Shield, we tried to catch CNN whenever we were near a TV in Riyadh, to try to find out what was going to happen to us. And I saw a lot of man-in-the-street interviews from back home, some guy pumping gas into his big gas guzzling vehicle talking about 'kicking butt' and all excited that 'we' (as in me, not him) were going to war. War is not pretty or glamourous or fun, and I think the military is well aware of that. It is perhaps some of the civilians who lack the understanding of war, or we wouldn't enter into them as quickly as we have.
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Old 02-27-2002, 05:35 PM   #20
shihonage
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Quote:
Originally posted by ca
some guy pumping gas into his big gas guzzling vehicle talking about 'kicking butt' and all excited that 'we' (as in me, not him) were going to war.
I so much hate those people. I can't help it.
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Old 02-27-2002, 09:22 PM   #21
lt-rentaroo
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Colleen,

I raise my glass to thee, if we ever get the chance to train together (whether on or off duty), your first drink is on me.

LOUIS A. SHARPE, JR.
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Old 02-27-2002, 09:34 PM   #22
Krzysiek
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Colleen,
I should mention that I've been reading posts on this board for quite a while before registering and deciding to take part in some of the discussion. I've seen a lot of the posts you've written and I'm always impressed by how complete and relevant they are. So lots of respect in your direction. The fact that you were in the military made me realize I was likely to get a strong answer to my naively worded question.

I know soldiers are treated poorly. That is they don't get paid well enough, they're exposed to unnecessary dangers environmentally (I'm studying environmental chemistry, it's frightening.), they're sent into wars for the sake of gas-guzzling cars. I think it's horrible; I think it's a misuse of their trust.

So I'm going to make a distinction for this question. I think there's nothing wrong with having a Sensei teach Aikido to people in the military in the same way it's taught everywhere else. I realize that soldiers are people and that it would be beneficial for those who want to be involved in Aikido. Read: I agree with you here.

The problem I have is with the attitude that it would be good if the military decided that Aikido is effective for the battlefield and proceeded to gut the art for its combat-effective elements and forget the rest.

I think that would be bad for the art (since it would be misused on a massive scale) and not much help to the soliders (since soldiers are hurt or killed when bad political decisions are made regardless of their skill.) If some US leaders decided to read Mark Binder's essay

Mark Binder's essay on Sept 11th

and somehow realized how their foolishness puts soldiers and civilians at risk, that would be a positive effect of Aikido on 'the military' (as a thing) and on soldiers, civilians, and the world. Somehow I get the feeling that unless Aikidoka and others decide to convey that to our government (through voting and other means) on a mass scale, it's not going to happen by itself.



Three points:
1) I appreciate gas-guzzling, money-oriented selfishness as little as you do.

2) I can't vote (yet) courtesey of the confused nature of the INS (they loose things and make dumb rules like no one else.) but I promise I will for the next presidential election.

3)

Sincerely,
Krzysiek
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Old 02-27-2002, 09:58 PM   #23
guest1234
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Hey Louis, we'll drink together to our fallen and missing...

And I'll buy you a drink, too, Krzysiek---for promising to vote, and dinner for looking after our environment (somebody has to start)...

I agree Aikido doesn't have a place in terms of warfighting, not so much because use by soldiers corrupts the way, but it really is not much against other options. It takes a long time and a lot of practice (don't we all know it) to gain ground in Aikido. Most soldiers/airmen/sailors don't need this for their fighting skills---we still can afford ammo--- and the hand-to-hand taught to certain groups is not designed to protect one's opponent. The harsh reality is destruction of one's opponent is the desired result in most battles. Where Aikido comes in, I think, it dealing with what that destruction does to the soldier causing it.
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Old 02-27-2002, 10:28 PM   #24
daedalus
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Want aikido taught in the military? Yeah, sure. The worst that could happen is that soldiers would be able to kill people another way, and this particular way would resemble aikido. Nothing really new here. They ARE given guns anyway. Splitting hairs about empty-handed combat isn't going to help the real problem.

The best would be that it is taught well, and everyone becomes a better person.

The intermediate idea would be that it wasn't taught at all, considering that aikido is a lot of time and effort to attain something that isn't top on the average soldier's list (protecting the opponent as opposed to surviving and making sure your friends survive).

Although, I'm still very uncomfortable even considering that soldiers should be treated differently from the rest of society. The us vs. them mentality is one of the biggest problems in existence. The world can't be "one family" (to quote Osensei) if the part of the family in the military isn't included. Us vs. them mentality is one of the reasons that we need a military in the first place.

And, while I am not a college student yet, I *am* one of those crazy radicals. Not quite the person you'd expect to defend the tools of the military-industrial complex ;^)

Brian
--
http://www.shinjinkai.org/
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Old 02-27-2002, 11:52 PM   #25
Bronson
 
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- Do I ever work with attacks that I might see outside the dojo?

A couple of years ago I was watching a nidan test. The person testing was a police officer who was known for his gentle flowing technique in the dojo. During the test he stayed true to form with beautiful flowing throws and controls. Until the instructor running the test asked him to put one of the rubber training guns in his belt and told his uke to come from behind and try to take it. I don't even remember what he did but it happend RIGHT NOW. No big sweeping movements he turned, gained control and dumped uke on his face. Everybody watching was quite surprised. The weird thing was that when I asked the nage about it later he said that the technique hadn't felt any different than any of the others. He didn't even realize what had happened. Just a story that your question reminded me of so I thought I'd share

And despite very pretty recruiting campaigns, the profession of the military is war.

Hey Colleen, I don't remember who said it or where I heard it but I once heard someone important say that "the job of the military was to kill people and break things." If you don't directly kill the people or break the things you provide support for the people who do. Again not really relevant but I thought I'd share.

Bronson

"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."
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