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Old 07-15-2002, 09:45 AM   #1
cbrf4zr2
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Question Am I a "bad" Aikidoka?

So I'm testing for 2nd Kyu in 2 weeks and some change, and I've been doing some more reading of posts and stories and how other Aikido practioners think and act - or at least how they say they do. And I'm reading stories about how a "true Aikidoka" would run away, would play dead, would be a pacifist, basically it says to me they would do "nothing" that they spend doing in countless hours of training. I then see more re-enforcement of other chiming in with "Yes - that's true Aikido," or other variants which lend creedence that in Aikido you should always run away, or feign injury, or the like. I look at that and say, "What's the point in even physically training?" Why not just take up some non physical training that prepares you to recognize situations to just run away or any of the other previous examples?

I know how to run, I know how to lay on the ground and play dead. If this is Aikido - why am I spending $60/month and training hour upon countless hour, if "real Aikido" is being a giant wuss?

I took Aikido so I don't have to run away, so I could stand up for myself, etc...

Does it make me a "bad" Aikidoka because I won't run away if someone attacks me or leads on that they might?

************************
...then again, that's just me.
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Old 07-15-2002, 10:03 AM   #2
rachmass
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I remember a old parable told to me by a karate teacher back in the 1980's, and hope I get it right....

A group of students were sitting around asking the old karate master about how he would have handled being attacked in a dark alley by a mugger before he started training. His response was "run like he...".
Then the students proceeded to ask him "oh venerable master, now that you have achieved such stature and abilities after all these years of constant practice, what would you do now?" to this, the old master replied:
"run with confidence".

Maybe that helps :-)

All the best, and just keep practicing.
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Old 07-15-2002, 10:07 AM   #3
cbrf4zr2
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Not really...

I hate to sound condescending but, if I wanted to "run with confidence" I could join the Grand Rapids Track Club. So I take it I'm a bad Aikido since I don't want to run?

************************
...then again, that's just me.
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Old 07-15-2002, 10:17 AM   #4
rachmass
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Nah, not at all. Just trying to add a bit of levity to my response. People train in martial arts for all sorts of different reasons.

I think what the teacher was trying to get at could have been that he still would have walked away from a bad situation, but that he would have been able to respond forcefully if necessary.

My aikido teacher says that you have to know how to kill so as to be able not to kill (not his direct quote). I know what he is trying to talk about is the sword that gives life, not taking it away. The knowledge that you could severely hurt someone through your training, but that you have learned enough not to.

Best
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Old 07-15-2002, 11:06 AM   #5
Erik
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Re: Am I a "bad" Aikidoka?

The point is not to win or lose, it's not to get hurt. How you do that is up to you.

Last edited by Erik : 07-15-2002 at 11:22 AM.
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Old 07-15-2002, 11:55 AM   #6
pointy
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how about this situation - let's say you are a kindergarden teacher and one of your students gets really angry, saying he wants to hit you. are you going to fight a 6 year old that couldnt hurt you if he tried?

most rational people would probably take the attitude of "im at least 3 or 4 times this kid's age height and weight, i'd better not do anything to hurt him." one thing you probably wouldnt do is break his wrist or knock him unconcious.

could you do it? of course you could. would you? noooooo

aikido is an system that allow us to defuse a potentially violent situation with this point of view. if your skills are at a good level you wont need to beat the snot out of a 6 year old, some spaced out crackhead, a drunk or whoever it is that is attacking you.

no one's telling you not to use your aikido if you need it. does that mean you should act like jean claude van damme in some stupid 80's movie? i hope at 2nd kyu an aikidoka would act more sensibly than that.

now what if that pissed off 6 year old had a knife? or a gun?

it's not a black and white situation. if i'm face to face with an attacker and have ample opportunity to run, with no further danger to myself, why would i want to fight? it just makes the situation more complex than it needs to be. im going to take the simplest path to end the conflict.

if an attacker's punch has been thrown and is on it's way to my face, im gonna move.

if my back is to a cliff and when i irimi, he falls over the cliff, am i going to chase him down there and keep the fight going?
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Old 07-15-2002, 12:53 PM   #7
aiki_what
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Yes you are.....now go punish yourself.
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Old 07-15-2002, 01:44 PM   #8
Kensai
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If that is a bad Aikidoka, then so am I.

The way of Harmony is the balance between, Ying and Yang, Right and wrong, life and death. If someone threated me and I did EVERYTHING I could to get out of the situation, then I would use the skills that I have been taught to their fullest effect. I am no coward.
Aikido is about balancing wrongs with rights.

"One who has gained the secret of Aikido has the universe in himself. He is never defeated, however fast the enemy may attack. It is not because his technique is faster than that of the enemy. It is not a question of speed or strength. The fight is over before it is begun."
O Sensei.

To question your "morality" of Aikido is a great thing. Fighting your inner demons, the true enemy. A great question.

Train Well

"Minimum Effort, Maximum Effciency."
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Old 07-15-2002, 02:56 PM   #9
Deb Fisher
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Bad aikidoka? Who is any of us to judge that kind of worth?

On the other hand, is this a smart or useful way to think about training? I've said this before - I maintain that any martial art is a heavily ritualized and abstracted form of fighting, and for that matter, it's usually based on a mutually consensual fight in which the partners are squaring off at eachother.

If I ever need to face off and 'duel' anyone, well... I'll thank my lucky stars that I can unleash my martial arts prowess. (Let me add to that - I also will know exactly what to do if some scofflaw actually grabs my wrist) But to think that I am learning practical, tactical self-defense skills... that would infect me with the kind of false confidence that could really get me hurt, or at least in trouble.

I realize that this is an oft-cited website here on the forum, but why reinvent the wheel?

http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/fantasy.html

Peace (and a strong pair of running legs to ensure it),
Deb

Deb Fisher
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Old 07-15-2002, 03:29 PM   #10
opherdonchin
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Cool

I really like Evan Sobel's metaphor of the child. I think it captures something about AiKiDo much more than what I'm about to say.

It seems like two different things are being confused here. They are both 'aikdio cliches,' but they highlight different aspects of the way a lot of people (that I've met) think about the art.

The first is the 'if I was attacked / mugged / whatever, I would run away if I could.' When I say this, I mean to expresses a lack of confidence in my ability to fight effectively, despite my years of experience in AiKiDo. I feel that this lack of confidence is healthy and does not imply fear. Since I haven't been in a fight since I was 13, I really don't know how effective I would be. More than that, I'm not very curious. If I succeed in living my whole life without ever finding out if AiKiDo 'really works,' I will count myself lucky and (ironically) take it as evidence that AiKiDo really works in the important ways that I would like it to.

The second thing is more like 'it is good AiKiDo to manage a situation so that it can be resolved without violence.' Often, when I think of this statement, I remind myself that a lot of effective AiKiDo involves letting go of things that I am holding on to out of habit (the tension in my shoulders, my death grip on uke's wrist, or, in this case, a certain amount of stupid pride) in order to increase my options. If defusing conflict was easy or even easily learned, then we would not need a whole art to help us figure out how to do it. So, when I think of this second statement, I imagine that my years of AiKiDo training are meant, paradoxically, to help me see and understand ways that I may be able to manage without 'using' AiKiDo.

Of course, sometimes I fail to defuse conflicts and the price is that I experience the unpleasant sensation of finding out whether it's me or the other person who is stronger. This is, in my mind, always a failure of my AiKiDo, just like every time I use force to throw down an uke it is a failure of my AiKiDo. However, this doesn't make me a bad aikidoka. It's just part of realizing that I still have a lot to learn.

Thus, if I end up in a fight, and I end up 'using' my AiKiDo, it would be nice if the AiKiDo actually 'works.' It would also be nice if I learn from it how, next time, I could handle the situation in a way that would avoid the fight.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 07-15-2002, 03:35 PM   #11
Don_Modesto
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Quote:
I know how to run, I know how to lay on the ground and play dead. If this is Aikido - why am I spending $60/month and training hour upon countless hour, if "real Aikido" is being a giant wuss?

I took Aikido so I don't have to run away, so I could stand up for myself, etc...
I liked the comparison to doing mortal battle with...a six year old. As the ( inevitably hornrimmed glass wearing)wife of Gary Larson's amoeba couch potato so eloquently put it, "Stimulus, response; stimulus, response--don't you ever think?!"

Do we measure "wuss" or "coward" only physically? How about the moral courage to walk away from inane behavior?

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 07-15-2002, 03:40 PM   #12
cbrf4zr2
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I look at it this way. I try to have others control me as little as possible. If I am out walking, minding my own business - why should I have to change my plans and give up my wallet, or whatever it is when I can tell him to back off and continue about what I was doing?
Sorry - but running away at every threat is not the way I want to live my life. I would rather die living the way I choose, than to live knowing I was a sell-out.

************************
...then again, that's just me.
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Old 07-15-2002, 03:42 PM   #13
rachmass
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One thing is that the originator of the thread commented on a couple of times is that he thinks he might be a "bad" aikidoka for having these questions. I guess I dont see this, and just that he is being a "curious" aikidoka. Certainly it is stirring a good response.

I hope that I never end up in a situation where I have to test whether my aikido works or not! I hope that by being aware of my circumstances and environment, that I will be able to avoid a physical conflict. I also hope that I can learn to "tenkan" a bit better when presented with a verbal assult (not good at this!). The main thing is to just keep practicing. No good, no bad, just practice.
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Old 07-15-2002, 03:48 PM   #14
cbrf4zr2
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I guess what it comes down to is...

Mugger comes up to me with knife - asks for wallet. I choose not to run, and confront him, and I end up unhurt and retaining my wallet. Am I a bad Aikidoka because I didn't run away when I could have?

************************
...then again, that's just me.
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Old 07-15-2002, 03:53 PM   #15
rachmass
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Why do you label yourself? If your life is threatend and you cannot extricate yourself from the situation, you save yourself (if you can). Wouldn't anybody, whether or not they studied a martial art?
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Old 07-15-2002, 03:57 PM   #16
cbrf4zr2
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I'm not trying to label myself.

The only reason I ask, is because I have yet to see a story where someone used physical conflict and was acknowledged as using good Aikido...invariably - people will say - "a true Aikidoka would have (insert whatever opposite outcome here" and the person gets chastised for his/her actions.

************************
...then again, that's just me.
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Old 07-15-2002, 03:59 PM   #17
AikiAlf
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Freaky!

I don't know. I'm on my 2kyu so from a similar level, I'm kind of feeling less aggressive about things than before. I don't know what to say, I don't think running away is the final answer to life but what are you predisposing yourself for?

you can certainly try and may get away with attacking the mugger twisting his arm into little bits and so forth. I think this must be a common aspiration in aikido
link:http://www.advdojo.org/aiki-man1.html

[tongue out of cheeek by now]
I train in hopes of finding myself able to react responsibly in a situation of conflict. My training might or might not help me there and there's lots of peoplw who are willing to offer opinions about the effectivity of my training or yours (most without having seen it ). I mean I hope to not freeze nor to lash out histerically, to keep things in proportion.

There are other Aiki responses to a mugging than being a victim or creating a victim, but who can know beforehand how things will turn out?

If you decide to be Aiki-Man, best of luck.
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Old 07-15-2002, 04:15 PM   #18
Thalib
 
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You are not a bad Aikidoka Frederick-san. To me a bad Aikido-gakusha is when one pick fights or be in unnecessary fights or even worse, competing in prize fights.

My sensei use the analogy of military training to explain Aikido training: "It is like a soldier training. Everyday the soldier practices tirelessly for skills that the soldier might not be able to use directly after. But when a war or just a battle breaks out, the soldier will use everything that the soldier had learned. The soldier might die in battle, but the soldier has accepted that fact, because the soldier fought for the soldier's beliefs. During the countless training days, the soldier has prepared for death."

What you were saying is not wrong Frederick-san. When one need to defends life, oneself's or another, or one needs to uphold justice and honor, it is justifiable to use one's necessary skills. Just remember one thing, when one is executing techniques during a physical conflict, one must accept that the outcome for oneself is death.

The statement does not mean that one should just give up or be reckless. It means that when one do defend oneself or others, one must do it 100%. Thinking "Could I die or not?", "Could I succeed or not doing this?, or "I don't want to die", will have serious consequences, one might as well walk away or run away.

One's intention must be pure, whatever that intention is. But, if one has doubts, might as well turn the other way. One quote that I modified a bit from my sensei that I like to use from time to time is, "If I have to die by the sword today, then I will do so with honor."

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
--------
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Old 07-15-2002, 04:35 PM   #19
guest1234
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Quote:
cbrf4zr2 wrote:
I look at it this way. I try to have others control me as little as possible. If I am out walking, minding my own business - why should I have to change my plans and give up my wallet, or whatever it is when I can tell him to back off and continue about what I was doing?
Sorry - but running away at every threat is not the way I want to live my life. I would rather die living the way I choose, than to live knowing I was a sell-out.
Whether you walk away (or run away) or fight him, that is your choice. If you feel you have to fight him, no matter what, regardless of the situation, then you are letting him control you. Self control and self determination are in your hands, and the consequences of your choice are yours: is what's in your wallet worth his life (or yours), his health (or yours).

People have never said fighting was bad, but choosing to hurt someone when you could also choose to end the conflict without damage, well... in my book not as good a choice.

Blindly fighting for pride, to 'not be a sell out,' that is giving up self control to control by your attacker...as the other person implied with the stimulus-reaction reference.

While I agree with most of what Opher said (hi, Opher, BTW ), I do disagree that running away is from lack of confidence in Aikido, but rather that is can be the correct application of Aikido as his fourth paragraph went on to describe.

I guess not everyone is in Aikido to beat up an attacker. If self defense is the goal, especially self defense that overcomes all opponents, perhaps the 60 bucks/month are better spent on a handgun, some classes, and a permit to carry concealed....

my 2 cents
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Old 07-15-2002, 04:39 PM   #20
Erik
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Quote:
cbrf4zr2 wrote:
I guess what it comes down to is...

Mugger comes up to me with knife - asks for wallet. I choose not to run, and confront him, and I end up unhurt and retaining my wallet. Am I a bad Aikidoka because I didn't run away when I could have?
No, but you are probably a stupid Aikidoka. There was a guy in New York during the 60's, I think, who had his car broken into. He got in the car, confronted the kid and was gutted for it. He died a third dan.

The problem is that you are playing the odds. In the first case, I don't know many second kyu's who are going to take a knife away very often. Probably well under 50% of the time. You may be different but no matter who you are you are still playing the odds. Give me enough lives and I'll take out any martial artist on the planet. Eventually, they'll slip, I'll get lucky and they die. The price of losing is too high and sometimes the price of winning is very high too.

By the way, I don't think this is an example of a bad Aikidoka. If we were so good we could take the knife everytime, then we should do it and escort the misdirected individual to jail.
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Old 07-15-2002, 04:55 PM   #21
Thalib
 
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Basically not being egotistical is what most are talking about.

My reason if I ever come to conflict with let's say a mugger, we have many cases like that in Indonesia, not quite a safe place, yes, I would not run and stand my ground. But, I have a few reasons for doing this, not because of pride:
1. If I just give the mugger the wallet, than the mugger would be satisfied that intimidation works and will keep doing it to others.
2. Whatever the reason is, mugging is wrong, the mugger must be taught of the mugger's wrongful ways.
3. Is there any guarantee, if I give the wallet that the mugger will let me live?

These reasons are actually caring for others, the person that is attacking you, and for one's own life. Would this be wrong?

I walked away from evil thoughts when a bus sideswiped my car (don't talk about legal issues here in Indonesia), scratched my back tire cover. I could just easily beat the crap out him to teach him a lesson. But picking fights over a scratch on the car, that is silly and stupid, and just egotistical. If I carry on further, I would probably make a fool of myself, create further traffic jams (which was already bad enough at the time), and in the end, the bus driver wouldn't have learned a thing (they are that lowly educated here). So I walked away in the best interest of others and myself, and I felt sorry for the bus driver, because he didn't learn a thing. Walking away in this matter was the best solution.

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
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Old 07-15-2002, 06:05 PM   #22
Chocolateuke
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I agree with thalib. Say you can take the mugger ( bad assumption) but for the sake of whatever there is a sake for! (hu?) anyways its like give a man a fish feed him for a day, teach a man how to fish feed him for life. So, you give the scum your wallet, whats he learn? That he can make money by threatning people with a weapon. But, if you take him and retain him he might have second thoughts. Runnings great but as Marc "Animal" Young likes to point out just taking tail and running wont work 90% of the time. Your assuming a few things. heres a few to name:

1. you faster than your enemy.
2. you know your way out and around faster ( how do you know he doesn't have any friends hiding?
3. he's alone.

and more. As for the 6 year old metiphore I dissagree that taking Aikido would be the best thing for training in something like that. Teachers all over the world handle that same situation without any Aikido training whatsoever better most aikidokas can!

Dallas Adolphsen
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Old 07-15-2002, 06:11 PM   #23
PeterR
 
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Trust me Edward - the only people you shoould run away from without fail are those that lecture you on what a "true Aikidoka" should do.

There are two run away camps:

Aikidoist as pacifist - love they attacker, turn your cheek, new-age, etc.

Aikidoist as realist. There are times it is far better to remove yourself from a situation and the art of measured response.

If you are surrounded with the former I would re-evaluate where your train. I would also choose your reading material a bit more carefully - it that is where you got these ideas as to what Aikido is about.

Then again - you may just be a cleverly disguised troll.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-15-2002, 09:02 PM   #24
Chocolateuke
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trolls they turn to stone in the sun dont they? but did I make some good points that you cant run every time and therefore should be ready of the possiblity every time?

Last edited by Chocolateuke : 07-15-2002 at 11:55 PM.

Dallas Adolphsen
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Old 07-15-2002, 09:28 PM   #25
jk
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Quote:
cbrf4zr2 wrote:
I guess what it comes down to is...

Mugger comes up to me with knife - asks for wallet. I choose not to run, and confront him, and I end up unhurt and retaining my wallet. Am I a bad Aikidoka because I didn't run away when I could have?
Naw. Mostly lucky.

I've grown fond of this quote: "Sometimes you eat the bear. Sometimes the bear eats you."

Simple enough really...ya gotta make your own judgments within each specific situation.

Regards,
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