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Old 08-12-2004, 08:21 AM   #1
justMe
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What are you capable of doing?

Someone knowing I have trained in Aikido for years recently asked me "To what limits would you go if you [and I will add the ones you love] are genuinely threatened?"

As I see it, this depends entirely on the attitude we bring to our conflicts. In this respect I feel one had better know in advance what they are both capable of doing and willing to do if attacked. You can't be figuring this out in the heat of battle. That would cause hesitation and in that moment… well a lot could happen in that moment.

There are many reasons individuals take up Aikido. Obviously, those who stick with it are satisfying their reasons while those that drift away are not. But whatever these reasons are, philosophical, spiritual, exercise, emotional, social, combat related, etc., one inescapable truth applies to all serious students. Aikido is a martial art. As you improve in skill, your ability to seriously injure or kill also increases. This is why I feel that in Aikido and indeed, in my rather limited insight, in all arts, an important aspect of the training is to come to truly know yourself.

I know from experience that I am not prone to over-reacting to violent situations and will apply just enough force to overcome attackers. I also know that I would not hesitate to kill an attacker if I honestly felt my life or my loved ones lives were hinging on the outcome. This is not some flippant phrase I am putting out as rhetoric. It took many years to come to understand myself well enough to know this is true. It was a very personal journey that was sometimes painful and often frightening.

Perhaps Aikido's stressing of respect for all, even attackers, made this so difficult. I don't know. I don't know if others who know the same about themselves, to the very core of their being, arrived at that conclusion without the same type of struggle.

Obviously, from my choice to post this in the "Spiritual" forum, you can see where I feel this issue lies!
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Old 08-12-2004, 08:38 AM   #2
SeiserL
 
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

What am I capable of?

You don't want to know. Remember, there are a lot of us that are old-has-beens, which means we have-been-there-and-done-that and don't ever want to go back again.

I have a deepest respect for the depths of the beauty and the depths of the violence we are "all" capable of.

I hope my age and training has mellowed me, and I hope I never have to find out.

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 08-12-2004, 08:53 AM   #3
MikeLogan
 
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Perhaps it was easier for you to realize than you think. I have always expected that I would respond in a similar manner to your own if I or a loved one were in mortal danger. Can that self-knowledge be a solely conscious thing, or is it of two parts, or more? One part instinct, the genetic experience of every single ancestor before you roled into your physiology; and one part consciousness, your mental capacity to observe possible events in a possible future, which must also contend with social pressures.

My trouble now, having studied aikido for just 5 months, is the realization of how little I know (re: technique). Combine that with becoming more and more aware of the nature of crime/violence in the world, and my question becomes could I defend myself in such a situation. It's more a motivation to train and reflect, than it is frightening.

Ever heard of Joseph Conrad? Wrote Youth, and Heart of Darkness, and Lord Jim, and the like. Yea, I know, not japanese in the slightest, but there are elements of Budo in the mindset often put forth in his writing and characters. More specifically his work often focuses on what people would/could do in the most dire situations.

I bet a lot of people here have asked this question of themselves, and the more experienced might even regret what they'd be capable of, but still do it, because it's you or them. My favorite example of this feeling is in King Henry the 5th of England's speech at the gates before the city of Harfleur, France,
in Henry V, by Shaklespeare.

Mike.
(editted to say, no, I'm not an english major)

Last edited by MikeLogan : 08-12-2004 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 08-12-2004, 09:27 AM   #4
John Boswell
 
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

Quote:
"To what limits would you go if you [and I will add the ones you love] are genuinely threatened?"
What purpose does such a question hold, I'd have to ask?

What I am personally capable of... and what I would rather DO in a threatening situation are two different things. Example:

In the news lately over in Odessa, TX, a man has been going around between 2am and 5am and robbing people at gun point in apartment parking lots. In almost every situation, a man was walking his wife/girlfriend out to her car on her way to work when confronted by this guy... who proceeds to rob them of their wallets and leaves. This guy is armed with a .22 rifle (go figure) but is threatening enough to get away with it. Should THIS happen to me and ONLY me, I'd probably just give him my wallet (as I'm broke most of the time) and count myself lucky. Now, should this ass try it with my WIFE... only God could save him from what I might do. I know what a .22 is capable of and I know what I am capable of. So long as my wife was out of the line of fire and I could keep the guys attention on me... I'd take the weapon from him no matter the cost. Period.

Foolish? Yup. I can take a lot from people, but I won't tolerate it when it effects loved ones. I just won't. Now, would I kill the guy? Not if I didn't have to and knowing aikido helps make that a possibility. But should push come to shove... yeah, I could. I wouldn't like it and I sure don't want to, but the answer is : yes, I am capable of it and could/would given the right circumstances.

But again... what good does it do to ask such a question? Until the moment comes to test your metal, you'll never really know exactlly what you will do and definitly not know the outcome of it.

2 cents.

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Old 08-12-2004, 10:21 AM   #5
Ron Tisdale
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

Quote:
But again... what good does it do to ask such a question? Until the moment comes to test your metal, you'll never really know exactlly what you will do and definitly not know the outcome of it.
That's it in a nut shell. Even if you did 'it' yesterday, tomorrow is another day. And you can't read the future. You can train, you can pray...but tomorrow will bring what it brings. Personally, I don't worry about it. Got enough real problems. Treat everyone with respect and move on.

Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 08-12-2004, 10:26 AM   #6
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

Ron, your answer is the only answer that is dependable and true. Lots of people like to talk ... but in the end, "that's it in a nut shell."

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
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Old 08-12-2004, 11:37 AM   #7
DarkShodan
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

What am I capable of doing? I think I have a good idea. To quote Martin Blank - Gross Pointe Blank _ "They found my psych results fit a certain profile. A certain "Moral flexibility" would be the best way to describe it...."

I agree with John, you just never know until you're there.

Whatever you think your capable of....decide now...so you do not have to decide later.

Victims, aren't we all.
-- Eric Draven
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Old 08-12-2004, 12:24 PM   #8
aikidocapecod
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

If "this" happens, I will do "that"...but if "that" happens, I will do "this"

I question if any of us were to make that decision now....and the "this/that" were to happen in a day/month/year that the decision we made so long ago would come into play at all. If we make a decision now to react a certain way.....and the event happens....would we waste time remembering our decision...and then act accordingly?

I think that the fight/flight instinct kicks in....Sure....we have been training in a martial art. And some of us will be able to effectively use that training...others of us will not be able to. That is one reason we train. But...we do not train now so we can make a decision now on how we would react in the future......just my opinion....

for me personally.....I would run like hell in the other direction!!! and pray my attacker is real slow as I turn 50 in a week or so!!!!
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Old 08-12-2004, 02:14 PM   #9
DarkShodan
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

You're missing the point. I'm not talking techniques. I'm saying decide now how far are you willing to take the conflict to protect yourself or your family. If your a soldier going into combat, make a decision if you are ready to kill or not before you get to the combat zone. Having the enemy in your sights and you in his is not the time to see if you have what it takes. Decide now.

Victims, aren't we all.
-- Eric Draven
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Old 08-12-2004, 05:49 PM   #10
Larry John
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

As a retired military officer, I'd like to say I'm with Lynn, Ron and Chuck on this one, but the truth is I just don't know.

My job for many years was to be ready to kill millions of people, even destroy whole civilizations on a moment's notice, and to be ready (but hopefully not required) to die in the doing. I believed I was ready to do so, and would have tried my best to do it if the balloon ever went up but, thankfully, I never had to.

By the time of the First Gulf War, I had already "graduated" to a headquarters job, and so did not even have the opportunity to see if I was capable of killing or injuring thousands, hundreds or even a single person. Like almost anyone who's trained to do a thing all his life but never got to do it, a part of me was put out that I was missing the opportunity to prove I could play in the big game for real--to release live weapons on living people.

I started training in aikido a bit over three years ago, and can now conclusively state that, martial daydreams aside, I know that I could "pull the trigger" on someone, I just don't if I would ...

...and I don't want to know.

Larry
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Old 08-12-2004, 10:51 PM   #11
Lan Powers
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

At fifteen, I was home from school with my younger brother 12, and sister 10, when two men drove up to our remote house in Southeast Oklahoma. At 3 miles from the nearest neighbor, it was a significant occurance to have traffic come our way. ( Very far back in the woods.)
These two guys pulled their car around and to my brothers eyes "hid" it behind our house. My first clue to all of this was him coming in to holler over the shower about the two fellows poking around. He was scared, so my kid sister was scared too.
The worst part of the set up for this situation was that the book I was reading at the time was Helter Skelter about the random violence of the Charles Manson group of a$$-holes.
To make a long story shorter, I found that if pushed to defend my loved ones, I would do (dripping wet) whatever it took to protect them.
No one died. But I got "right up against it" to use the local parlance of the time and place.
When faced with a shotgun and the firmly (if somewhat shakily) delivered command to stop RIGHT THERE one of these two blithely proceeded to step right on up towards me. When facing the muzzle of said shotgun, he still approached. The sound of a safety clicking off is VERY convincing of sincerity. (Nobody will harm my family).
Thankfully, his friend "woke up" to the reality of death looming large, and stopped his headlong rush toward my steadily increasing pressure on the trigger of my Dads shotgun.
It changed my point of view in pivotal ways to realize that I could.... no, would, kill a man.
Thank God it didn't have to happen. Aikido is a great way to be able to choose to NOT hurt, or worse.

This probably the longest post I have ever put here. (You touched a nerve)
Lan

Last edited by Lan Powers : 08-12-2004 at 11:00 PM.

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 08-14-2004, 03:59 PM   #12
Anders Bjonback
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

I'm sure I'm capable of many horrible things. My question is whether or not I have the strength to keep my commitment to not kill another person no matter what the circumstance.

"For peace and happiness are presences, not objects we can grasp and hold onto."
--Lilian Smith
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Old 08-19-2004, 12:34 PM   #13
frivolouspig
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Tongue Re: What are you capable of doing?

Quote:
Lan Powers wrote:
At fifteen, I was home from school with my younger brother 12, and sister 10, when two men drove up to our remote house in Southeast Oklahoma. At 3 miles from the nearest neighbor, it was a significant occurance to have traffic come our way. ( Very far back in the woods.)
These two guys pulled their car around and to my brothers eyes "hid" it behind our house. My first clue to all of this was him coming in to holler over the shower about the two fellows poking around. He was scared, so my kid sister was scared too.
The worst part of the set up for this situation was that the book I was reading at the time was Helter Skelter about the random violence of the Charles Manson group of a$$-holes.
To make a long story shorter, I found that if pushed to defend my loved ones, I would do (dripping wet) whatever it took to protect them.
No one died. But I got "right up against it" to use the local parlance of the time and place.
When faced with a shotgun and the firmly (if somewhat shakily) delivered command to stop RIGHT THERE one of these two blithely proceeded to step right on up towards me. When facing the muzzle of said shotgun, he still approached. The sound of a safety clicking off is VERY convincing of sincerity. (Nobody will harm my family).
Thankfully, his friend "woke up" to the reality of death looming large, and stopped his headlong rush toward my steadily increasing pressure on the trigger of my Dads shotgun.
It changed my point of view in pivotal ways to realize that I could.... no, would, kill a man.

That'll teach them pushy Jehovah's Witnesses to interrupt your shower but seriously, who were they, just a couple of drunk hunters?
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Old 08-19-2004, 05:10 PM   #14
Lan Powers
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

Actually, one of the pair was a local man whose daughter went to school with me.
The other was a brother in law, (I think)
Since there were no vehicles there, these two guys assumed there was no one home and drove on into the back part of our property.
The bro - in law owned some acres across the fence in the woods that abutted our place, and wanted to check it out.

Just a combination of bad circumstances, leading to an escalating situation. Pure misunderstanding. I didn't know either of these guys, although the father of my classmate was SURE I knew him.
The point of this all was that I knew from then....I would do it. I would fall to peices afterwards, but it would be a case of dealing with it then.
Colored my attitude from that day forward.

Probably not a big moment in the overall scheme of things, but it was a watershed for me.
Thanks for asking.
Lan

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 09-08-2004, 10:12 PM   #15
Amassus
 
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

Tough question for me.
I've never been in a situation where I have been truely tested. Don't want to be.
I am fearful that I won't know when it is 'on'. When do you switch over from caution, to "oh my god, I'm in trouble?"

If I know this is it, then I think I will do what I must. Still, that nagging question, when is it on?
As you can tell the lack of experience is my dilemma here.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 12-12-2004, 12:47 AM   #16
bryce_montgomery
 
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

If you really think about this question...it's infinitely hard to answer...I mean, how do we know what we would do in the situation?...what is our feeling prior to the situation?...who is involved?...etc...I honestly doubt that I could answer this question...I mean even if we've faced a situation that would make us feel like we could answer this question would we know that every time the situation happens we could react in the same way?...

I mean, I honestly don't know if I could protect myself if I was attacked by somebody...I know that if I didn't win...they wouldn't feel as cheerful as they did the morning before, but where would I be? Beaten, in a hospital, still in the ditch, or worse of all, dead. These questions are questions that I think everyone that has studied any form of self-defense have really truly thought about or will think about...I mean, no system of defense is flawless. It depends on the situation one is set in and the purpose one is given to react.

I'm not saying that the above mentioned reasons or beliefs are wrong to the speaker. I'm just saying that I find it hard to believe that one could answer any question about the future including a situation without knowing its entirety. And even if one did...would one really be able to follow through with a prior thought on such an event...to kill someone if necessary...to really think, "I'm taking this person away from the people he knew...the people that might have loved him/her...his/her mother/father, sister/brother...I'm robbing this person of the only lifelong possession he/she has...his/her body" (note:I hate being politically correct with male/female words...).

Could this be the pinnacle of one's aikido practice (of course; taking into account everyone reading this can relate to aikido)? I mean, practicing aikido would help you make the decision not to kill the enemy wouldn't it?...It'd make you consider every option...It'd help you to protect the aggressor yet protect yourself would it not?...

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we shouldn't even think about killing anyone...I mean that's why we practice the Art of Peace right? We shouldn't always focus on the instances of having to use budo to harm people, we should use budo to help people...

But that's just my 2 cents,

Bryce
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Old 12-13-2004, 10:58 AM   #17
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

I'm reading the new Stephen Covey book. He does a good job of explaining stimulus/response in western terms. Basically between stimulus and response you have choice. Some people and circumstances have more choice than others. Things you do to improve yourself expand the gap between stimulus and response and give you more opportunity to choose different options.

Practicing martial arts and developing yourself expands your ability to make choices in situations, even if it is just slightly.

It is never a good thing to be put in the situation to have to choose to kill, but there certainly are circumstances where this is a choice that is presented. I think as martial artist or budoka you have to ask yourself "I am doing everything I can to prepare myself for that time?"

No, we can't train to be prepared for situations since we don't know the variables that will be presented, but I think we can train our bodies and minds to be conditioned (good or bad) to be prepared to deal with death, dying, and killing.

One thing is for certain, you cannot prepare for it by avoiding the subject, or not thinking about it. I think you must look death and killing in the eye, accept it, and know it intimately in order to be prepared to deal with it when the time comes. To each person this will be different.
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Old 12-13-2004, 07:01 PM   #18
Joe Bowen
 
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

It's hard to truly understand death and killing, without actually engaging in death and killing. You can think about it, read about it, discuss it, even dream about it, but until your there you won't understand it. Even after the first time your get into that kind of scenario, you still won't understand it. This isn't something you can do once and then say, "Been there, done that, proved myself". Every time this type of situation happens it is brand new. And whether you know it or not, we're all traveling down the same road. The training martial artists go through conditions both mind and body and it is the unification of these that provides for success and survival in these scenarios. It is not so much the execution of technique but the unification of purpose of both the mind and body. This is a question of volition. Mind-body unification allows the instantaneous transformation of volition into action. The interceding thoughts or "decisions" slow down the transformation of volition into action. Volition is set prior to the conflict, and providing the mind/body unification remains, powered by an unwavering volition, it should win out. Someone mentioned the "fight or flight" response. This is an ingrained animal instinctive reaction. Instinct is not a decision. The survival instinct is not nearly as powerful as the will to survive. We set this volition in and through our training.
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Old 12-14-2004, 10:33 PM   #19
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: What are you capable of doing?

I picked Aikido because it seems to give me an opportunity to eliminate a threat with the least amount of deadly force. Not only is that important to me spiritually, but I'd feature it in my criminal and/or civil defense when I am unavoidably prosecuted for surviving a deadly force encounter!
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