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Old 04-04-2003, 12:59 PM   #26
W^2
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Wink Read, think, assimilate, rinse, and repeat...

With all due respect to those that have responded to my posts, you've failed to grasp what was written and I do not think I could have been more lucid, which isn't necessarily the fault of the reader. Of course you will all recognize that the forums are nothing more than an Aikido based Rorschach test - you know, the ink blots. Often our commentary reveals more about how we think than what we know of a subject, and it seems readily apparent to me that the responses to my posts are no exception. Rather than connecting all the dots explicitly I tend to exclude logical connectors for the sake of brevity - they're implicit in what was written though.

Nevertheless...

Hello Ian,

The scenario was a moral dichotomy of sorts; do you allow your opponent to harm himself or not?

If you can explicitly define the violence in Aikido, then by all means do, so far no one has. However, please reread my first post and point out the inconsistencies clearly. Think your idea through and make your case!

I can't tell from the context whether you were making a general statement or referring to me regarding your statement, 'If you are totally opposed to violence in any form, why are you practicing a martial art?' For the sake of clarity, that was not stated or implied in any of my posts.

By the way, don't shut up.

Hello Linda,

If your first instinct to a hand moving rapidly toward your face isn't to avoid it, then you should develop this reflex - for most it is natural -- and there's nothing ‘expert' about responding with the simplest solution. In fact in the inherently violent art of Muay Thai I always avoid and redirect rather than meet force with force, which is the opposite of what others in my class with a Karate background tend to do. We all tend to ‘run home to momma' so to speak don't we?

Finally, It was just a hypothetical scenario -- I'm far too menacing looking to be bothered by people in bars.

Sorry to all about this post -- it is a bit off topic.

~Ward
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Old 04-04-2003, 01:41 PM   #27
Dave Dean
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Quote:
Dennis Hooker wrote:
If another person can get into your head and cause your mind to become troubled with violent intent and you act on that intent, then you have taken the first step toward being controlled by that person.
This is exactly the point I've been trying to get across to some members of my church community online, in regards to dealing with a particularly troublesome troll. He won't go away because they keep feeding him their anger; he asks for it and they give it to him. He's controlling them to the point where they set aside their compassion, courtesy, and common sense. Very frustrating to watch, and I wish I could enroll all of them in aikido
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Old 04-04-2003, 02:32 PM   #28
kung fu hamster
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Hi Ward,

Sorry, I'm at the 'confused' stage where I think too much and my tai sabaki has way too much lag time...I probably would get in my own way and catch a punch in the snoot...

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Old 04-04-2003, 03:45 PM   #29
DaveForis
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(chuckles) I love this argument. It's only happened how many hundreds of times on different threads?

How 'bout this for a definition for violence (and food for argument--I mean thought ):

Violence is the act of forcing your will upon another person.

And, ya know, for all of you that try to make violence a completely subjective and empirically self-existent thing, don't forget that violence (even if it is a noun) does not exist on its own. It is not some thing that just _is_. In order to have violence, you have to have someone with the intent to be violent first (and it's that many people have this intent that makes violence seem like a subjective "thing" (a.k.a. a "noun")).

For the abusive parent, his intent isn't to discipline a child to help it grow. It's to get the "little bastard to shut up!!"(example, not a specific quote) or behave in some way which the abusive parent will find less stressful. The intent in this case is a completely selfish, "I don't want to deal with this child or take the time to be understanding and nurturing so I am going to take the quickest possible method that gets results." And because of the selfish, forceful basis of the intent behind the punishment, violence (abuse) results.

Pretty simple, really. Take a look at any situation and look specifically at the intent of an action. That's the tell right there. Violence is a "thing" that is very much tied up in, and results from, emotions, especially selfish and dominating ones.

As for martial arts techniques, they aren't violent. They are tools. It's how you use them that matters, not what they can do. I have a swiss army knife I carry everywhere. I could pull out the blade, stab someone a few times, pull out the corkscrew attachment and poke the person's eyes out, and then pull out the saw attachment to saw their head off to keep as a trophy. Is that violent? Ohhhhh yeah. That's why I only use it to cut open boxes and fix things.

So. When you use a technique on someone, do you want to maim, destroy, and make the person utterly submit to you, or do you want to keep them from harming you and do the _best_ _you_ _can_ to keep them from harming themselves as well?

As for just dodging the punch and letting someone hurt themselves, don't forget that it is perfectly ethically acceptable to allow someone to suffer the negative consequences of their own negative actions. If someone attacks me without provocation and I accidentally (remember intent) break their arm, oh well. They screwed up and decided to be violent and now they have to deal with the consequences. I'll probably feel bad afterward, but I didn't (in this hypothetical example. I don't know that I'm enlightened enough to react non-violently in a real situation) intend to add more punishment than what the attacker already subjected themself to the possibility of.

I like the example in the dojo of an accident happening and someone getting hurt. Do you consider that a horrible, violent act, or just a simple mistake and go on with training? Maybe it has more to do with control. Maybe violence is just a lack of control, especially of negativity, selfishness, and the need to dominate others.

Behind every flaw in technique is a flaw in the mind or spirit
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Old 04-05-2003, 05:51 AM   #30
paw
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devil's advocate

Dave,
Quote:
Violence is the act of forcing your will upon another person.
By this definition, pinning someone is violent. Law Enforcement officers arresting someone is violent. A judge sentancing a criminal is violent.
Quote:
As for martial arts techniques, they aren't violent. They are tools. It's how you use them that matters, not what they can do.
The classic counter argument is that tools were originally designed for a purpose. That purpose may be and should be examined ethically. A firearm can be used to open mail, but it was most likely designed with the idea of killing something or someone. A scientist can rationalize working on a new military weapon by saying, "this could have other applications in society", but that doesn't omit the fact the weapon was designed to cause violence.

Why have techniques where limbs may be broken or vital points struck? Is not sankyo an act of violence (forcing your will on someone by limiting the way and direction in which they can move without pain or injury)?
Quote:
If someone attacks me without provocation and I accidentally (remember intent) break their arm, oh well. They screwed up and decided to be violent and now they have to deal with the consequences.
Actually, since you live in the USA, you are responsible for your actions under the law. If a DA determines based on a police report that accidentally or incidentally, breaking someone's arm was excessive, you will be charged and prosectuted. It's not just a moral/ethical issue. It is also a legal one.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 04-05-2003, 09:18 AM   #31
Dave Dean
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Maybe it shouldn't be a question of "is aikido violent" but "is it excessively violent?"

If someone is trying to hurt you, you DO want to force your will upon them to make them stop.

Even if you do accept that definition for violence, it's just common sense that aikido techniques are less violent than smashing your attacker in the face, intentionally breaking his arm, or using pepper spray or a gun. Unless maybe you use it to throw them through a 3rd-floor window...
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Old 04-05-2003, 11:32 AM   #32
mike lee
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crunch time

Aikido isn't violent, I am. So if I eliminate "I," there is no one to become violent. This is one of the basic purposes of zen meditation.

The Buddhists recommend certain types of "medicine" for certain ailments. For anger, which leads to violence, they recommend meditation.

At the moment of confrontation in a street fight, all emotions interfere with clear thinking. This includes love, hate, anger, etc. Remaining calm and clear allows one to remain in the ultimate state of readiness.

I've been in countless confrontations where a potential attacker is enraged. He is waiting for and expects a reaction from me. When none comes, he starts to become confused, he babbles, he doesn't know how to respond. Like a brief, but violent thunderstorm, he starts to blow himself out. The confrontation ends because the equation is not 1 plus 1, but 1 plus 0. He, therefore, has nothing to fight. What I appear to be and what I really am are two different things.

If and when he attacks, he's easily thrown because by not being in control of his emotions, he's easily unbalanced.

Even if he did attack, say with a knife, the same principle would apply. I would remain calm and clear — no "I," no fear — a void. Even if I broke his arm in self-defense, I would be calm, clear, and not violent.

An onlooker may say the action was "violent," but my essential nature would not be violent, because "I" would not exist. "I" simply interferes with my clarity of mind, so therefore, there is no use for it.

P.S. In normal conversation, "I" is simply a manner of speaking, but in fact it is an illusion and in no way describes true reality. Until a person discovers their essence, they can never really know what this reality is. In the meantime, as far as I know, zen meditation is the best course of action.
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Old 04-05-2003, 01:05 PM   #33
mike lee
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please excuse the interruption

I would just like to add that while I've found the principles outlined in my previous post to be useful in most hostile confrontations, in so far as spiritual cultivation under "normal" conditions is concerned, I'm beginning to resort more and more to the wisdom put forth in the Bible. I've realized that cultivating the spirit of love in the moment to moment experiences of daily life is highly enriching.

While studying tai chi chuan, a master once told me that it was essential to understand that "the spirit controls the mind, the mind controls the chi, and the chi controls the body."

So more and more I began to wonder, "what's the right spirit?"

Biblically speaking, God is spirit, and God is said to be love. It seems, therefore, that the highest or the best spirit to proceed from would in fact be the spirit of love.

Of course, this opens up a whole new can of worms, because we must study more to begin to understand what the spirit of love really is! Maybe some of my concepts of love are wrong, and I need to replace them with correct ones. Only then can I start off on the right foot by properly moving my mind with the spirit of love.

1 John 4:18

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."

In the end, from a martial-artist's point of view, I'm hoping this all comes together.

In a fight, for example, one of the first things we must overcome is our own fear. But from the above statement, we can see that by perfecting the spirit of love in ourselves, we can eliminate fear. I think that for a martial artist, this would be a very important concept, and worth considering.

This is why I have now set myself out on the path of perfecting love in my daily life. It seems to me that the accumulated spiritual power that we gather from daily spiritual cultivation, coupled with martial-arts training in the proper way, can greatly enhance many aspects of our lives.
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Old 04-05-2003, 01:32 PM   #34
opherdonchin
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Hey Mike,

I thought that was all really nicely said. There are, of course, other ways and traditions of cultivating Love, but that's not the important thing. The important thing, for me, is the way that you caught the balance between the self-less ideal of traditional Buddhism with an essentially Self centered ideal of Loving. This always seems to me a really important and interseting tension.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 04-05-2003, 03:44 PM   #35
paw
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I digress, but.....

Dave Dean,
Quote:
If someone is trying to hurt you, you DO want to force your will upon them to make them stop.
Do you? That's a personal decision, and there are countless examples of where people rationally chose to NOT stop someone who was hurting them. The demonstrations of Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. come to mind.
Quote:
Even if you do accept that definition for violence, it's just common sense that aikido techniques are less violent than smashing your attacker in the face, intentionally breaking his arm, or using pepper spray or a gun.
I disagree, based on the understanding of the laws of the state in which I live (laws in MO may differ). OC (pepper spray) is non-injurious. So it would be preferred for a civilian to use OC before using any physical technique.

I further disagree based on common sense. OC: requires much less training to use effectively, allows for greater distance (and thus greatly reduces the chance I will be injured), has a large body of evidence that attests to it's effectiveness, and causes no lasting injury. Additionally, some brands of OC contain a UV dye allowing for positive indentification after the incident. Finally, if OC does not deter the attack, there is strong legal evidence for moving up the force continuum.

If aikido techniques are so "safe", why is so much time spent is teaching ukemi? Why the concern with breakfalls?

Regards,

Paul
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Old 04-06-2003, 12:48 AM   #36
mike lee
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Quote:
The important thing, for me, is the way that you caught the balance between the self-less ideal of traditional Buddhism with an essentially Self centered ideal of Loving.
Intersting ideas, but I have to wonder if perfect love is also selfless — if many paths can lead up to the same mountain peak.
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Old 04-06-2003, 01:33 AM   #37
mike lee
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not so bad

Quote:
If aikido techniques are so "safe", why is so much time spent is teaching ukemi? Why the concern with breakfalls?
I've thrown people several times on concrete and they were not seriously hurt — just stunned and surprised.

Muggers or people who want to fight are usually young, fairly healthy, and pumped up on adrenalin and maybe drugs and alchohol. Because they are caught by surprise, they usually fall well and naturally because they have no time to tense up from fear.

In the dojo, conditions are different. People see others taking breakfalls, they have time to think about it, tense up and become afraid.
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Old 04-06-2003, 09:52 AM   #38
Dave Dean
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Paul, OK, I'll give you that one on pepper spray.

But after some more thought I'm not sure I really can accept that definition of violence anyway. It implies that the following things are inherently violent:

Government: legislation is the will, the executive branch carries it out, the judicial branch imposes its own will.

Public education, as it's required by law; also the teachers have a high degree of authority to make rules and punish transgressions.

Parenting: any standards of behavior that you hold the child to, and the discipline to support it.

A doctor's order.

A locked door: imposes your will on others that they do not enter the room.

Clothing: imposing your will that others not see your nakedness.

Self-discipline: telling myself I need to get off the couch and exercise, or stopping myself from ordering dessert, is an act of violence by this definition.

Social norms, ethics and morality: all of these impose the will of a culture upon the individual.

So I don't think I'll go with that one.

I think a definition of violence has to consider the concept of (not necessarily physical) harm. But a fired shot that misses its target and does no harm is still violent. A tornado that touches down in a junkyard, tosses stuff around that nobody cares about, and then departs without hurting any living beings or valuable property, is still violent. A swear word yelled suddenly inside a car, which the other drivers don't hear, is still violent. Falling down the stairs or sliding your car on a patch of ice and hitting a tree have no harmful intent but are still violent. Meanwhile, such things as poison, illness, and negative thinking cause harm, but are not necessarily violent...

And of course there's a difference between pain and damage (as evidenced by the pepper spray, or nikkyo).
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Old 04-06-2003, 12:37 PM   #39
SeiserL
 
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IMHO, Aikido is a tool of self expression. Aikido techniques are guided by the intent of the user. Aikido, itself if there is such a thing, is neither violent nor nonviolent. Perhaps we should train so that we use as little as possible but enough to be effective.

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 04-06-2003, 01:45 PM   #40
opherdonchin
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Plenty of people have claimed that governments and public education are inherently violent. While I'm not sure I agree with this, I don't think it should be dismissed out of hand.

Here's a question: if we are so unclear about what violence is, why not being violent so important to us?

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 04-06-2003, 01:48 PM   #41
opherdonchin
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Quote:
Intersting ideas, but I have to wonder if perfect love is also selfless — if many paths can lead up to the same mountain peak.
I'd agree with both these ideas. However, just because all paths lead to the same peak doesn't mean that all paths will be equally appropriate to me. There is a choice or a balancing between these two extremes in my own life, and it feels to me like my path has a lot to do with noticing and appreciating that tension.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 04-06-2003, 03:36 PM   #42
paw
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Dave (Dean),
Quote:
But after some more thought I'm not sure I really can accept that definition of violence anyway.
I don't agree with that definition of violence either and gave some counter examples myself. Dave Foris originally submitted that definition of violence.

Lynn,
Quote:
Aikido techniques are guided by the intent of the user.
Be that as it may, we cannot know the intent of the user (indeed, the user may not fully know their intent either).
Quote:
Perhaps we should train so that we use as little as possible but enough to be effective.
Here I think Dan's earlier posts are worth consideration. "As little as possible" may still result in a bruises, broken bones or death. Being of pure intent won't make someone any less bruised, broken or dead.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 04-06-2003, 04:28 PM   #43
jimvance
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Quote:
Dave Dean wrote:
But after some more thought I'm not sure I really can accept that definition of violence anyway. It implies that the following things are inherently violent...
This is such a great thread! Kudos to Hooker Sensei for offering up such a good idea, regardless of how many permutations it may have been asked in before this particular thread.

I like Dave's quote here because it betrays the fact that we still take a very subjective view on violence. I like to eat meat, but every time I do, I think about the cow that was killed for my steak. In a sense, it was a form of violence that allows me to live, and it is acceptable, it fits the social perspective. The proponents of PETA would say something like "meat is murder", and they would be entirely justified. It doesn't make my steak taste any less good though.
Quote:
Dave Dean wrote:
I think a definition of violence has to consider the concept of (not necessarily physical) harm. But a fired shot that misses its target and does no harm is still violent. A tornado that touches down in a junkyard, tosses stuff around that nobody cares about, and then departs without hurting any living beings or valuable property, is still violent. A swear word yelled suddenly inside a car, which the other drivers don't hear, is still violent. Falling down the stairs or sliding your car on a patch of ice and hitting a tree have no harmful intent but are still violent. Meanwhile, such things as poison, illness, and negative thinking cause harm, but are not necessarily violent...
Here I think is where the argument splits into two camps: harm. We always look at violence as causing harm; we reference the idea of violence through the filter of "harm is bad, no harm is good" and we are entirely justified in doing so.

I looked up the word "violent" and it comes from a latin word meaning strength. Nothing is wrong with strength, right? But strength causing harm is bad, wrong, morally deplorable. We don't look at a tornado as wrong, it is beyond our control, what we still refer to as an "act of God", even though we know it is the atmosphere that caused it. And Dave is correct, there are lots of ways to cause pain, injury, and death that we would not consider "violent".

Rationalizing our actions becomes little more than trying to fit patterns to events. Why? So we can learn from them maybe, and use the pattern to our benefit. We live in a violent universe, a universe of force. Birth is violent, I have three sons and witnessed them being born, but it was a beautiful violence. Maybe what we are doing in budo is learning about violence, using it where it is fitting, releasing the emotional baggage surrounding the pattern. Maybe we learn to use the force in the universe, free from the mental agitation when we think we need or are confronted with violent activity.

I saw some of the newer Hubble photos showing two galaxies colliding. That is violence on a level we cannot even comprehend, but it is a wonderful discovery. Aikido to me means applied violence, the best use of force. I think if we divorce it from the ideals of emotional pain and harm, either through seeing it as an empty force, or by reversing the polarity, and calling it love, we begin to see things very differently from most of humanity, and that is a blessing.

Jim Vance
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Old 04-07-2003, 02:42 AM   #44
mike lee
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know the game

I think the "bad" kind of violence that we should be considering is an emotion. A person can feel when a thirst for blood and vengence wells up inside. It's not good, and in my opinion, its not right.

I learned the difference by observing two completely contrasting football players in the NFL. One was Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkis. His game was based on fear, intimidation, and trying to take opposition players out of the game, literally.

Another was Oakland Raiders defensive lineman and Hall of Famer Howie Long. Although a great tackler and sacker of quarterbacks, he once said on an NFL Films interview that he "abhorred violence," and it showed in the way he played.

For him, it was a game of skill and finesse. He played the game the way I think that it was originally meant to be played. He didn't try to put quarterbacks in the hospital, he just brought them down to the ground and got the job done. The tackle was just the end result of his skill in getting there. The way he pulled down a quartback often looked like a father playfully wrestling with his young child.

I think that deep down inside, we all know the difference between playing the game and being violent.
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Old 04-07-2003, 03:00 AM   #45
happysod
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ok so I lied (blame Ward)

Ward, as you asked direct, I've rejoined the thread (and yes I'm a lying weasel).

I saw no problem with the dilemma you posed regarding your hypothetical night-club assailant, avoidance is non-violence, interference (of whatever sort) I would term violent.

My opinion is that the techniques in aikido are violent, even if the philosophy isn't. If you apply these techniques, even with love and understanding, you're being violent. My why are you.." was a general query, not aimed at you specifically (just a bewildered cry in the wastelands).

I realise that my own viewpoint is rather less complicated and complete than many posting here, but I really can't make that leap that enables others to divorce actions and consequences from intent. For example, I firmly believe a surgeon will be violent with a patient. The surgeons intentions are beyond reproach (hopefully), but they will cause damage by their technique. In a similar way, when you surgically remove your opponent, you are using violence, again with the best intentions.

Violence itself to me is a tool, misused, it's wrong. Used properly, it can benefit both parties. I'll fully agree that the philosophy behind aikido attempts to lead people to a non-aggressive (loving? - can't quite go that far..) end-point. However, I don't think this detracts from the fact that aikido techniques are violent. If an activity/philosophy is violent in part, I have to vote for it being violent as a whole (like being a "little bit pregnant"?).
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Old 04-07-2003, 10:41 AM   #46
W^2
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Blush! I will elucidate further by contraposition...

As I stated in my first post, Aikido philosophy accepts conflict, and therefore violence, as a naturally occurring phenomenon. Following this precept to conclusion, I will assert that everything is inherently violent - conflict exists everywhere, at every scale. Animals have the drive to survive yet are programmed genetically with a finite lifecycle. Everything living or non-living receives its energy from something else, which in scientific jargon is known as the conservation of energy. So in essence something gives of itself for us to have life - physical life as we know it depends on the 'death' of some other thing.

Having said that, I will further assert that Aikido philosophy [and therefore technique] is about understanding the nature of conflict so we can redirect it to a mutually beneficial or synergistic resolution. In principle you can apply this many ways, of which one is the physical technique of martial arts. This is exactly what O' Sensei did; he was a Martial Artist who realized that what he had learned and become quite adept at, could be used positively instead of negatively. Remember, originally O' Sensei began training in the Martial Arts to 'avenge' his father, but his motivation changed over the intervening years. Thus we have Aikido, technically modified according to his personal philosophy to produce peace, if possible, instead of death. The Nash equilibrium comes to mind here...

In this light, Aikido [and all that it entails] stands in contraposition to the inherent violence of the world around us. It is the win/win philosophy in action, applied through the vehicle of the Martial Arts.

In conclusion, Aikido is inherently non-violent - any other conclusion would produce a paradox, and therefore inconsistency, into the concept of violence itself.

I hope that clarifies my first post.

~Ward

Last edited by W^2 : 04-07-2003 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 04-07-2003, 11:06 AM   #47
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Wink Just for good measure...

...I will state again that Aikido is the principle of non-resistance, so if violence is directed at you, and you allow it to 'pass by', then you are simply allowing the violence of 'others' to run it's course, as if you weren't there at all.

~Ward
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Old 04-07-2003, 11:21 AM   #48
akiy
 
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Re: Just for good measure...

Quote:
Ward Ward (W^2) wrote:
...I will state again that Aikido is the principle of non-resistance, so if violence is directed at you, and you allow it to 'pass by', then you are simply allowing the violence of 'others' to run it's course, as if you weren't there at all.
Actually, if you weren't there at all, there'd probably be no violence to begin with. By stepping aside or whatnot, you've still made a conscious choice to affect what's going on...

-- Jun

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Old 04-07-2003, 12:14 PM   #49
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Ward,
Quote:
I will state again that Aikido is the principle of non-resistance
How do you reconcile the principle of "non-resistance" with atemi? Particularly in light of the often quoted aikido is <insert very high percentage here> atemi?

Regards,

Paul
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Old 04-07-2003, 12:45 PM   #50
W^2
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Talking Dancing with paradox...

Hello Jun,

What you're suggesting is that without good there wouldn't be evil. Remember that the argument isn't whether violence exists, but rather, whether we meet it in kind or not.

Hello Paul,

Here's something I posted in another thread:

If you think broadly about Shioda Soke's definition of Atemi - "whenever you make contact with focused power [this is Atemi]" - then you could restate it as ‘intentionally directed energy at the point of contact', and for the sake of simplicity I'll limit the point of contact to the physical domain. Applying the broader definition to Aikido we find that all techniques are Atemi, and the seeming controversy over the application of Atemi in Aikido becomes an argument for which technique is appropriate for a given situation. Hence, which of the three ‘Atemi' is appropriate should be rather straightforward given the specific circumstance, personal belief systems not withstanding. In this way we can see how Aikido is Atemi used in harmony with a situation, instead of viewing it on the surface as merely ‘striking' or some other pugilistic connotation. Again, this is just an application limited to the physical side of techniques. I don't mean to suggest here that Kiai and Aiki are one and the same, as they are obviously complimentary.

Actually, given the variable of ‘contact', inductive logic yields an even broader definition -- ‘ Intentionally affecting [the energy of] some other system ‘ - such as a training partner for instance. The notion of intention brings us back full circle to the difference between Aikido and ‘Striking' Martial Arts, although I would say that many seek to achieve balance/harmony as well.

---End---

If Atemi does not produce harm, either intentionally or not, then it is non-violent. Does Atemi have to be harmful? No. It is the personal paradigms of violence that people seem to be having trouble reconciling with what I've posted. People seem to forget that someone adept at Aikido will lead and direct their attacker prior to the actual 'technique' - they dictate what the attacker can and cannot do. I have seen this in every Martial Art I've taken, albeit at a very high level. Nonetheless, If you don't practice Aikido this way, you aren't truly practicing Aikido - you're still growing. That may seem like a subtle distinction to some, but it isn't.

~Ward
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