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Old 04-06-2005, 06:13 AM   #51
David Humm
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
You have to think to yourself, what is the point of disabling/killing someone. If you believe there is a point to it, well, maybe you should do that. Personally, since I don't believe my life is any more valuable than another person's life, I think killing someone is no better (or worse) than you yourself being killed.
In a life or death situation who would you prefer to walk away after ?

In a conflict, I fail to understand how or why your life would be any less valuable than the scumbag who decided to attempt to assault you. Would your family feel your life was on equal par with a person who inflicted injury or death on you... I doubt it.

Aikido is a martial art, use it accordingly and with due consideration for the circumstances which you find yourself in. This may include simply walking away, right through to handing some scumbag his arse on a platter.

Dave
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Old 04-08-2005, 08:24 AM   #52
Ed Stansfield
 
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Lots of people have told me that the idea of Aikido is to leave the attacker unharmed but I've never really seen this myself.

I dislike the idea that principles of non-harm are somehow implicit in Aikido; that they either "inhabit" the techniques themselves or that by practicing Aikido or applying an Aikido technique you are striving not to harm someone.

Equally, if we're looking at not harming someone, I can't accept that there's a substantive difference between say, moving out of the way of a punch so that the attacker falls over, applying kotegaishi so that the attacker falls over, or entering and hitting the attacker really hard in the face so that they fall over. The question of intent just seems irrelevent to the end result and to me, the end result in each case could be achieved by the use of Aikido.

I don't think you can say "I didn't harm them - they harmed themselves by attacking me" any more than you can say "I didn't harm them - it was the bullet that I fired out of this gun" or even "I didn't harm them - I just didn't push them out of the way of that falling piano". Those examples aren't meant to be as flippant as they sound . . .

I'm not saying that there's no difference between harming someone and not harming them, or that the intent not to cause someone harm is a bad thing. I just feel that the intent and the causation and the principle (if any) of harming or not harming are all with the person themselves and not with the art.

It's the person and not the art that takes responsibility.

IMO.

Best,

Ed


PS: Hello Abasan - It's been a while hasn't it? Hope you're keeping well !

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Old 04-11-2005, 09:24 AM   #53
rob_liberti
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

When I read this thread, I am reminded of Saotome sensei discussing "satsu jin ken and katsu jin ken" the sword that gives life and the sword that kills. That must be in one of his books.

I am also reminded of a story I heard from Gleason sensei about some shihan who was being attacked in real life (outside of the dojo) by several people. The story goes that while dealing with the other attackers, the aikidoka noticed that one of the attackers who ended up flying past him headfirst at a brick wall - so that aikidoka somehow swotted at that flying attacker to change his direction so that the attacker hit the wall with his shoulder instead of his head. I think about this when I think about minimum damage.

Of course, ideally you want to do no damage. But since we are not ideal, we settle for doing the least amount. I think it is the same kind of idea as when people try to argue that there is no unselfish actions because it can be argued that the person performing the aaction does it selfishly for the good feeling - or whatever. The idea is that selfless actions and doing no harm are more spiritual goals to aspire to. IMO.

Rob
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Old 04-11-2005, 04:09 PM   #54
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
Of course, ideally you want to do no damage. But since we are not ideal, we settle for doing the least amount.

Rob, this is not a rebuttal of your position, but I would like to raise the following issue once again - using your post as a springboard.

This all makes sense, this position; it all makes sense at a "common" level of thinking. However, we should note that all ideals are marked by our distance from them. That is to say, we do not hold ideals up as something we can hold on a regular basis and/or without challenge -- they are not what come to us "naturally" or easily. This is what makes them ideals -- the likely failure to uphold them is what makes the ideal. In the same way then, we should note that what comes to us easily or "naturally" cannot and/or should not be considered ideal. The fact that "we are not ideal" is no reason whatsoever to settle for less. The fact that "we are not ideal" is in no way a basis for making what comes to us naturally or easily the new ideal. If our ideal is non-violence or non-injury then minimum injury and/or minimum violence does not become the next best thing -- and certainly not the moral equivalent of the latter. It forever remains a departure from the ideal -- no matter how difficult that ideal is to achieve.

If I were to pursue this line of reasoning, when I hear the story you mentioned, I do not hear an ideal being met, or even the "next best thing." It is not for me a story of great virtue -- it holds no morale worthy of emulation. Rather, from the point of view of idealizing non-violence and/or non-injury, I have to ask, "What kind of immoral (or un-right) life is a person living that he/she is attacked by multiple people? How seriously is the virtue of non-violence and/or non-injury being taken if one can end up in a multiple attacker situation?" The answer, for me, "Not very seriously." Moreover, if the story happened in Japan, which is place where multiple attacker situations in the modern age are an extremely rare occurrence within a moral lifestyle, then my answer would be, "Not at all." These answers I would hold regardless of the great skill and awareness demonstrated by stopping someone's head from hitting a brick wall. Why? Because of the little skill that is required to stay out of multiple attacker situations. For me, the story would have been more virtuous had it mentioned how the practitioner maneuvered to accelerate the person's head into the wall -- as in that case it would have at least been consistent with itself on many more levels.

Back to the question at hand:

Is it not "strange," or at least worthy of more question, that something that seems to be posited by a couple of shodans, who trained under someone else who probably wasn't all that trained to be a teacher at the time, has played a role in defining Aikido in such a way that it is hard to make sense of things historically and philosophically? Such a view (i.e. minimum damage as a moral principle) probably has more to do with the moral philosophy that was being produced in Ivy League schools at that time than with Budo, Aikido, and/or the teachings of Osensei. Can we not ask today: "Would we all so readily accept characteristics of Aikido that are said to be defining if they were passed along by two shodan level practitioners?" I do not think so. I think the authors of "Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere" got in "under the wire" because there was no wire at that time. Since then, the book has gone on to describe what Aikido is and/or should be for a great many people -- perhaps more so than any other book. However, now that there is a wire, and since so many understand so much more, it is time to seriously question what a couple of shodan wrote in a book that was published in a kind of void of "not enough information." For me, the position of minimum damage is not a moral virtue -- it is an economic stance. For modern governments, which gain a lot from the philosophy taught in Ivy League schools, economics and morality have become bedfellows. However, for human beings, I am not so sure we should (so easily) join these things in bed.

Again, just thinking out loud,
david

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Old 04-12-2005, 01:34 PM   #55
rob_liberti
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

David,

I really liked:

"O-sensei's unification of the Same and the Other is coming from the philosophies he practiced -- philosophies wherein the subject/object dichotomy was reconciled."

and

"No matter how economical one gets in one's practice, one is still practicing a type of action that first injures our opponent and thus us, and that second denies the Oneness of my being with the being of my opponent."

I would say that it is equally unreasonable to deny that we would have different levels of ability towards manifesting the ideal. Further, I would claim that the Founder of aikido clearly understood that aikidoka would have different levels of ability towards manifesting the ideal as evidenced by him using a ranking system. Of course I cannot say for sure that the Founder actually held the position that an aikido should do minimal damage. However, it seems that he would have had the expectation that his students (and their students) who are not yet grandmasters would have this "do minimal damage" position as the best manifestation of the ideal that they at whatever their current level could achieve. I put it in the same spiritual ideal category as "altruism".

For my level of ability, I say that you should constantly get yourself into the position where you can do maximum damage to the attacker and then from that position choose to do the minimum amount of damage to them to keep yourself safe. To my way of thinking, this is the only way aikido has any chance of working at all. As you get better that minimum amount of damage you would need to do should decrease towards doing "no damage". How else do you suggest approaching our training towards doing "no damage"?

It seems clear to me that when you are low level with respect to the situation, the minimum damage you need to do to stay safe might just also happen to be maximum damage. No one would argue that level is not ideal.

As I have improved, I have also seen a lot of the craziness leave an attacker when their balance gets taken from them and they find themselves vulnerable and yet NOT taken further advantage of. It really depends on the threat level - which has a lot to do with your depth in understanding and ability and also the craziness / toughness of the attacker.

From a practical point of view I think it should be that you drop down in levels of sophistication as needed. I believe that if you are not training to at start at minimum damage, then I question if you are really doing aikido. We hold our police to these kinds of ideals bounded by the reality of the situation. The police have a lot of power, and we require them to somewhat match the level of violence they use on someone who is attacking them. If someone yells at a cop, the cop doesn't get to shoot him. Similarly, if someone says the cop looks fat in those pants the cop doesn't get to punch them in the face. As a society, we hold people of power to these kind of standards for a good reason because there is a difference between defending yourself and just satisfying your ego.

I am a believer in the phrase "You become the mind you train." If you train to hurt people then that is going to be your response when pressed. If you train to do minimal damage, then that's what you are going to do. If you train to do no damage and that is beyond your ability you are not doing yourself any favors -- and I don't think that would be aikido either. In my unsolicited opinion, it is also dangerous - possibly more dangerous - to actively train violence in ego gratifying ways.

I read somewhere that one of the aikido guys felt something like 'in quest to develop the ultimate combat effective art that can be learned in 2 years we are loosing a lot of the value of studying martial arts' or something like that - I can't do it justice. I've been thinking about this because for some reason I liked it, but I disliked it too. I finally realize that the reason is that I think it would be great for everyone to take 2 years and learn that ultimate combat ready defense system and get that out of the way so we can move on to studying valuable daily practices like aikido devoid of the fear of what would happen if… and armed with exactly what could be done so that the choice to do less and ultimately no damage can be realized.

Rob

Last edited by rob_liberti : 04-12-2005 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 04-12-2005, 02:48 PM   #56
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Hi Rob,

Thanks for working my mind here -- thanks for the reply.

You wrote: "Further, I would claim that the Founder of aikido clearly understood that aikidoka would have different levels of ability towards manifesting the ideal as evidenced by him using a ranking system. Of course, I cannot say for sure that the Founder actually held the position that an aikido should do minimal damage. However, it seems that he would have had the expectation that his students (and their students) who are not yet grandmasters would have this "do minimal damage" position as the best manifestation of the ideal that they at whatever their current level could achieve."

I cannot with confidence state that the Founder held such ideals for anyone other than himself and/or for anyone other than that "general" or "abstract" deshi instructors use as a point of reference whenever they want to generally talk about some of the more abstract elements of their art. After all, such a moral position is obviously tied to Osensei's religious worldview, and we know that most of his deshi either claim that they did not understand his view and/or that Osensei did not require that they understand it. By extension then, I think one would be hard-pressed to suggest that Osensei connected the comprehension and/or realization of such a worldview to notions of institutional rank and/or of progress. In addition, one could even argue that Osensei shows more signs of not understanding the modern ranking system than of understanding it -- as there are historical examples where he subverted such a system via things like "over-promotion," etc. Still, I can concede that it is not unreasonable to suggest that Osensei may have felt or understood that for many the notion of "minimal damage" is the closest that one could get to the ideal of "non-injuring," etc. However, and this is what I feel is important, such a concern assumes that the Founder saw his art as non-injurious -- and that my friend is the assumption that is up in the air right now. For if the Founder did not see his art as non-injurious, if his position on the oneness of Mankind is indeed seated firmly in a mystical worldview, then it is likely that the Founder's caveats against violence are not a call for us to discover a new non-lethal technology but rather to purify from our own heart/minds the will to violence and all that supports it.

You asked: "As you get better the minimum amount of damage you would need to do, you should decrease towards doing "no damage". How else do you suggest approaching our training towards doing "no damage"?"

Certainly, we can see, to do some damage, even as little as possible, cannot lead to doing no damage -- as "some damage" is always in the opposite direction from "no damage." This remains true even if it is more proximal to "no damage" than "maximum damage." That is to say, the orientation and/or direction of "minimal damage" are antithetical to the ideal of "non-injury." It can only ever remain this. So I would suggest a whole other perspective is in order -- should one truly want to hold the ideal of non-violence and/or non-injury. Moreover, I would suggest that a mystical worldview does indeed present such an alternative -- one that also remains much more practical.

How else do I suggest approaching our training towards doing "no damage"? By leaving our training lethal and by working upon ourselves along a keen martial edge so that we do not ever need to employ it. As we improve, our art should simply get more lethal, and thus more capable of honing our body/mind so that it does not require of us to act out violently. In short, I would suggest, the way to discover how we injure ourselves when we injure another is not to gain a kote-gaeshi that just lays folks down (while we support the back of their head for good measure). Rather, it is to penetrate our own being to such a depth that we realize the oneness between us all. The capacity to penetrate are own being, I would suggest, is directly proportional to how lethal one's art is and/or can be. For me, the non-lethality of our art, the idealizing of "minimal damage," is the way that we block ourselves from participating in this oneness. How? Because it forces us to preoccupy ourselves with mundane things -- as our Aikido becomes a mundane thing as well.

I have written a bit on this at our web site -- there are some video clips that go with it. Maybe you might find it interesting -- if you got some time, please check it out, and let me know what you think:

http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/v...eflection.html

thanks,
david

David M. Valadez
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Old 04-12-2005, 09:44 PM   #57
rob_liberti
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

(I haven't had a moment to read your article yet, but I wanted to respond to what you wrote here while I had a moment.)

Quote:
one could even argue that Osensei shows more signs of not understanding the modern ranking system than of understanding it -- as there are historical examples where he subverted such a system via things like "over-promotion,"
Sometimes when someone understands the rules extremely well, they know them well enough to know when it is appropriate to subvert them. I heard a story that one day George Osawa and a bunch of his macrobiotic followers where in a train station in Japan. Some of the followers were a bit upset because they were all very hungry but all they could find was white rice. I believe that he simply explained that eating white rice one time wouldn't kill them.

It seems to me that it can be both "discover a new non-lethal technology" AND "to purify from our own heart/minds the will to violence and all that supports it".

Quote:
By leaving our training lethal and by working upon ourselves along a keen martial edge so that we do not ever need to employ it. As we improve, our art should simply get more lethal, and thus more capable of honing our body/mind so that it does not require of us to act out violently.
While I certainly agree with this, I am skeptical about the depth of the progress we will make if we do that while not constantly working towards actively choosing to do the least amount of damage. From my perspective, all lethal with no challenge to find an equally effective no-damage solution seems to lead to an equally mundane art as well.

Rob
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Old 04-12-2005, 11:58 PM   #58
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
From my perspective, all lethal with no challenge to find an equally effective no-damage solution seems to lead to an equally mundane art as well.
Yes, then, this is where we must part in opinion. For me, it's not challenge to find an "equally effective no-damage solution." It's not a challenge because we are so prone to believing our own delusion that we have found one, that we should find one, and/or that we can find one. If we look around, we have lots of folks already fully buying into the Westbrooke and Ratti position - they all believe the delusion. In fact, Aikido is known to the world via this view. This position, or the belief that one has found a non-injurious method of self-defense, is never fully tested, so it's believable. It causes us to rewrite history, and so its believable. It causes us to misunderstand other arts, and so it is believable. Etc. It hardly seems like any real kind of challenge since the capacity to be deluded is so likely and so supported by so much.

If there is a challenge here, it is the challenge to not be subject to such delusion. However, this challenge, I would propose, connects us to a whole other type of self-reflection - one more akin to what I was stating (I feel). Still, an even bigger challenge is to purify the will to violence within our heart/minds. No challenge is bigger than that - not for modern Man at least. Keeping our art lethal allows for this "challenge" to be reconciled - in more ways than one might imagine at first glance. Keeping our art lethal and keeping that lethality within a culture of non-violence and fellowship among all Mankind is the paradox that is needed for true self-reflection to take place (and thus for delusion to be combated). For me, this is entirely different from just trying to be lethal. So I would not say that understanding our art's lethality in the way I propose is free of challenge and/or free of challenges that would prevent it from becoming mundane. This I feel I can say while I can also say that I can appreciate any effort one might have to reduce violence in this world - such as your own.

(Also, I'm do not think that Osensei can be said to be "thinking outside of the box" when it came to his misunderstandings of the new ranking system. As I remember it from articles read over at AJ, his actions were corrected and/or halted from further occurrence. They are clearly the actions of someone that did not understand fully the new workings of the new institution - and the institution let him know that in those cases. However, I am digressing with this line of thought from the topic of the thread.)

david

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Old 04-13-2005, 05:34 AM   #59
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
If we look around, we have lots of folks already fully buying into the Westbrooke and Ratti position - they all believe the delusion. In fact, Aikido is known to the world via this view. This position, or the belief that one has found a non-injurious method of self-defense, is never fully tested, so it's believable.
Quote:
By leaving our training lethal and by working upon ourselves along a keen martial edge so that we do not ever need to employ it. As we improve, our art should simply get more lethal, and thus more capable of honing our body/mind so that it does not require of us to act out violently.
What does this imply for the practical application of aikido in self-defence?
Is it ok to injure an attacker in a non-violent, non-agressive mindset? (Or is this a logical contradiction?)
Or is the applicaton of aikido techniques in self-defence an 'incorrect' application? Is aikido only meant to hone body/mind and not meant for practical application? Implying that although it is hard to think of defending yourself as wrong, it means you failed as an aikidoka at that particular time?

Joep
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:55 AM   #60
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

David, I have the impression that if we actually got to train together we would be very much on the same page.

I think that we are all deluded to some degree - some more than others.

You certainly may be right about O-sensei's ranking system. Speaking of delusion, I can think of some well known shihans (and of course a few frauds) who should probably decline to do any more seminars until they get a better handle on some of the basic waza. (When a shihan asked me and another sandan to please just pretend that his nikyo and sankyo worked - I really wanted to say no problem as long as you refund the money you are charging for this seminar! - I'll not mention any names.) I suspect that you are worried that people taking to "do minimal damage" position inadvertently support the combination of "deluded and weak". To me that risk is the lesser of two evils...

As far as I am concerned, the real problem is that I think this world has more than enough deluded people who practice nothing but "maximum damage" at all martial times. They kid themselves by saying well, I'd only use it if someone were threatening me or my family. When pressed, they will do what they practice - even if the situation could have been handled much more peacefully by someone who bothered to develop those skills instead of gratifying their ego for years and years.

Particularly in aikido, I see a lot of aikido people trying to get "better fighting" as their main goal as opposed to developing their spirit through the practice with "better fighting" as a resulting by-product.

I do not necessarily disagree with much of your point of view espeically about continuing to learn how to be more lethal within our art. I simply feel that this should be a by-product of the training.

I liked it when I saw the Modern Arnis folks choose to hit their partner's cane (their fighting stick) instead of smashing their partner's hand, wrist, or forearm. I don't know if anyone in the class other than the teacher was actively making the choice each strike, but the teacher was. I think the same can be true for aikido.

I am concerned because I think that your position about keeping our art lethal with only the long term stretch-goal of purifying the will to violence within our heart/minds - and no short-term or mid-term goal of constantly making more and more progress towards developing the ability to manifest the long-term goal will inadvertently support those with the unfortunate combination of "deluded and dangerous".

Rob

Last edited by rob_liberti : 04-13-2005 at 08:00 AM.
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Old 04-13-2005, 08:37 AM   #61
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Some how this whole topic seems delusional. The (lucky) fact is, most of us will not have to defend ourselves physically outside of the dojo. I believe if that is so, the proper context for this discussion is "in the dojo". If that is true, then of course we want to do minimal/no harm to our uke. Which is entirely different from dealing with someone really attacking us to do harm.

On multiple attackers being easy to avoid...it is not necessarily so. For instance, I have a great aunt who lives in a very bad neighborhood. She refuses to leave (she would have to be declared incompetant to get her to leave). In this neighborhood, dealing with multiple attackers is not unheard of (had to deal with it myself). So, in my daily life, being physically attacked is the least of my justifiable worries. But occationally, reality and obligation forces me out of that context, and nothing I could morally do would stop that possibility from occuring. David, are you saying that the instructor in Rob's story could not have been in such a situation?

My first paragraph and my second represent a paradox...aikido is in the dojo because it is unlikely for me to need the physical skills outside the dojo...and yet, there are situations where I could need the physical skills outside of the dojo through no fault of my own. I resolve that paradox by saying in the dojo, no harm to uke. Outside the dojo, let the attacker beware. I was fortunate that my presentation to the would be attackers mentioned above caused them to change their minds. It could just have easily have gone another way. I can assure you that I wouldn't have been worried about them cracking their skulls on the pavement. It is just as sure that I probably would have found simply surviving a much bigger concern.

Best,
Ron

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Old 04-13-2005, 10:48 AM   #62
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Quote:
Joep Schuurkes wrote:
What does this imply for the practical application of aikido in self-defence?
Is it ok to injure an attacker in a non-violent, non-agressive mindset? (Or is this a logical contradiction?)
Or is the applicaton of aikido techniques in self-defence an 'incorrect' application? Is aikido only meant to hone body/mind and not meant for practical application? Implying that although it is hard to think of defending yourself as wrong, it means you failed as an aikidoka at that particular time?

Joep
I believe first and foremost, not only do you have a right to self-defense, you have a responsibility to defend yourself and your loved ones in the event of an attack. The means at your disposal to fulfill that responsibility are boundless. The method you choose from the means at your disposal is the key. As Aikido practitioners part of our training entails gaging an attack situation and selecting an appropriate response to resolve the conflict. Least possible harm doesn't mean no harm and if the situation calls for a lethal response then you are perfectly justified in applying lethal force. Aikido training provides guidelines for behavior in such situations. Self-defense is the practical application of technique based on those guidelines.

Part of the problem here is the intermingling of self-defense with Aikido. Self-defense is an art in its own right although it isn't often viewed as such. More often self-defense is viewed as a by-product of martial arts training. My wife, Mary, has been teaching self-defense for over 15 years. She bases her system on Aikido principles, easy to learn and execute techniques (not necessarily aiki) and common sense decision making. As a result of her research we have come to the conclusion that practical self-defense transcends specific martial arts. You can think of self-defense as a superset with the various martial arts styles as subsets of it.

Regarding your last question; I'd much rather walk away from an assault and ponder whether or not I've failed as an Aikidoka than be left lying bleeding and broken in the gutter.
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Old 04-13-2005, 12:18 PM   #63
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Joep, Rob, Ron - all great posts. Thanks. You've all brought up some great points - all things necessary for keeping our feet on the ground - which I think is important if we are dealing with things of the spirit and of big moral questions, etc. So thanks for the "reality check" - always needed.

I will try and reply in time, but please excuse any delay I may have to take. Will try to get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks,
dmv

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Old 04-13-2005, 01:38 PM   #64
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Quote:
Joep Schuurkes wrote:
What does this imply for the practical application of aikido in self-defence?
Is it ok to injure an attacker in a non-violent, non-agressive mindset? (Or is this a logical contradiction?)
Or is the applicaton of aikido techniques in self-defence an 'incorrect' application? Is aikido only meant to hone body/mind and not meant for practical application? Implying that although it is hard to think of defending yourself as wrong, it means you failed as an aikidoka at that particular time?

Joep


I am not so sure these questions have to arise again. As I said before, I think Osensei's mystical thinking presents an alternative to such lines of reasoning.

For me, and here I am departing somewhat from the thread's topic (though it does reveal my underlying ideas), Aikido is a Budo. Aikido is not a secular practice wherein the object of training is the mundane goal of being able to defend oneself when attacked. Rather, Aikido, as a Budo, uses the task of being (of becoming) able to defend oneself as a tool to transcend the Self, to Awaken, to purify the body/mind, to bring a religious meaning or significance to our lives, etc. (you can pick the phrase). In short, Aikido uses a secular pursuit (i.e. the capacity to fight, to defend oneself, to act martially, etc.) as path for spiritual cultivation. (The key question is "How?" -- but I will save that for later I guess -- though it is something I touch upon in the link I provided up above.)

For me, if we lose the tool we are using for cultivation, we lose the cultivation. For example, if landscaping was our Way: If we lose our rocks, trees, rivers, other natural elements, and if we lose our concept of beauty, serenity, and/or if we have no overall concept by which we understand Nature, etc., then we have lost our tool for cultivation. Thus, landscaping as a Way loses its efficacy and therefore it ceases to exist as such.

On the other hand, if we become preoccupied with the tool for cultivation alone (i.e. landscaping/to act martially, etc.), if we become obsessed with the surface of our training, the tool for cultivation ceases to be a tool (since it is not made the objective), and again our Way ceases to exist. For example, again using landscaping: If we become obsessed or preoccupied with rocks and trees, with beauty and with serenity, and/or our understanding of Nature, and if we thereby fail to see how such things can and should be reflected in and by our inner being, then landscaping as a Way ceases to exist. One is only landscaping.

For me, Aikido as a Budo is the same thing. Aikido gains its practical and secular efficacy in its capacity to be martial. Because it holds this practical and secular efficacy, it possesses enough integrity and truth to support the spiritual practice of deep self-reflection and reconciliation. If we lose even one of these elements, if we lose either the martial integrity of Aikido or if we become preoccupied with the superficial elements that make up that martial integrity and lose our spiritual objectives, Aikido as a Way ceases to exist. For Aikido to be a Way, the practical must support the spiritual and the spiritual must support the practical. Most importantly, we must note, "support" does not mean that the two things must be metaphorical to each other and/or symbolic of each other. We are dealing her with a cultivation of the Self and not merely with the development of a discourse.

For me, Aikido as a Way does not fail because we may utilize the tool of our self-cultivation outside of the dojo. "Fail" is the wrong word, since the Way is not subject to such finalities once we are treading upon it. Success in the Way can only be measured by continued cultivation. A failure, any failure, may be part of that continuance. For example, such "failures" and/or "departures" may actually be the thing we need to figure out how to truly reconcile the practical with the spiritual. However, and not wanting to ignore your post, we can, if we would still like to, ask a moral question. We can ask, "Are we morally wrong when we must injure another?" For me, as I have hinted above, this is a whole other issue since a Way is not so much dependent upon a morality as it is often merely encased within one. As a whole other issue, these moral questions do not raise issues of practicality for me. They do not raise questions of practicality for me because Budo's practicality was never meant to be measured morally. One is either cultivating oneself along Budo or one is not. Budo's practicality only serves the cultivation of the spirit and thereby only touches morality as an incidental. Or, in other words, the Way always functions outside of a morality but for the times when we infuse our Way with a moral position. Not everyone does this, not everyone did this (historically speaking), and not everyone has to do this.

However, personally, I do seek to firmly encase my training in a morality. I also think Osensei did this as well -- sort of tying this back into the thread's topic. If I reflect upon my morality, I can see that it is Christian-based. I can see that it is centered on a Creator God, a brotherhood of Man, a sense of servitude, a practice of love and of sacrifice, and humility before the Truth. Thus, if you ask me, "Are you not morally wrong when you injure another person?" The answer would be "yes" -- for to injure another (no matter how minimal) is to injure myself; to injure another is to injure God; is to deny the truth of my brotherhood with others, etc. Are there times when I must do it because it is the lesser of two evils or because it is the only option that presents itself for whatever reason? Yes, there are such times and there will always be such times. However, for a Man of peace, such things, no matter how inevitable, do not make a wrong a right. They only make wrongs likely, necessary, and inevitable.

As I come through this existence, as there is times when I come to feel I must or should do wrong, the efficacy of the Way continues regardless. I still require and make use of the secular pursuit to act martially as a process for spiritual cultivation. Yet, as I continue to evolve along this Path, my capacity to more thoroughly infuse a morality of Life and Creation within the Way becomes more likely. As such, as I continue to evolve, there become less and less times when the "need" or the "should" of violence arises to capitalize upon one aspect of my training along the Way.

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Old 04-13-2005, 01:54 PM   #65
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:

I am concerned because I think that your position about keeping our art lethal with only the long term stretch-goal of purifying the will to violence within our heart/minds - and no short-term or mid-term goal of constantly making more and more progress towards developing the ability to manifest the long-term goal will inadvertently support those with the unfortunate combination of "deluded and dangerous".

Rob
I think you are right Rob - we agree more than disagree. I can see that now in what you said in your last post. And as I said before, I would never fault your efforts and/or accomplishments. They have to be admired - even where they may differ from my own.

It is true, I imagine one could say that I am dealing with a long-term goal. But is not the quest for finding a martial technology wherein you can minimally damage another human being also a long term goal? Is it not the case that along the way toward that goal you as an instructor have other things in place to keep deshi from only training to create maximum damage and/or only becoming fighters? Do you not use the ideal of minimum damage to cultivate a spirit of peace, compassion, and wisdom within your deshi? Does not that ideal, as one measures him/herself against it, still have some efficacy before it can actually be embodied? Does not your dojo have a set of protocols by which deshi are aided in cultivating self-responsibility and concern for others, etc.? Do you not transmit every teaching as part of a larger whole wherein the ideals of Love and non-violence, etc., are held up? Etc. So it is with the ideal of purifying our will to violence. It takes place within a whole system of training - one that acts upon the deshi so as to discipline him/her toward this ideal and to manifest it in most cases, moving to more and more cases, as their capacity for purification finally arises and completes its task. One does not have to wait for the final accomplishment to have several accomplishments that are real and vital and meaningful along the way. Under the right circumstances, one can train in lethal pursuits and still find the path to non-violence, love, compassion, etc., even as one is on the Path (which is all there ever is anyways - right?) In the same way, I can concede your point and say, "One can, under the right circumstances, find martial integrity within the will to do minimal damage."

thanks,
dmv

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Old 04-13-2005, 02:28 PM   #66
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Hi Ron,

Perhaps if Rob could provide more details I could provide you with my specific answer to your questions. As it stands, I of course would have to agree with what you are implying: Such things can be forced upon us regardless of our actions and/or our lifestyle, etc. You are right. The Shihan in question may be in such a situation. It is possible that the Shihan was in a "very bad" neighborhood (not in Japan) wherein gangs or groups of people attack lone folks passing by.

Still, I don't feel that this possibility makes it true that such situations in general are not so easy to avoid -- if you will allow me, after all your aunt does it on a regular basis. I am sure you do it as well when you visit. If you grow up in such neighborhoods, you learn how to do such things from an early age. In other words, it does not take us to be the "exemplarily example" before we can figure out how to avoid such things and/or to get quite good at avoiding such things. Thus, we can very early on learn how to keep such things rare and/or to keep such things as occasional realities.

True, they happen. True, they can happen to the best of us and probably have. But, for me, it does not become more consistent with a life of Peace (should that be your goal in life) to stop someone's head from hitting a wall than living a life wherein such things remain rare or completely absent. That was the point I tried to make. It is not the lesser of two evils that I was saying I would focus in upon when hearing the story; rather it was the greater of two goods. I was not focusing in upon whether it would be more consistent with non-injury to stop someone's head from hitting the wall or letting it hit the wall. I was focusing in upon whether it would be more consistent with non-injury to stop someone's head from hitting the wall or not being in a multiple attacker situation at all.

Out of curiosity, perhaps Rob could tell us more about the situation -- or at least if it happened in Japan or in the States in a very bad neighborhood??? Rob???

Thanks Ron.

david

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Old 04-13-2005, 03:08 PM   #67
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

I don't mean to be discourtious, but I have no idea where that story happened.

Unfortunately, that was a story I heard from Gleason sensei and he is off in Ohio right now doing a week long camp about aikido and kotodama (www.shobuokugyo.com). When he is back, I will ask him and I hope he remembers.

I do agree that it would be a bit shocking to have happened in Japan but I can say from my personal experience that you can get someone pretty worked up in Japan by total accident - especailly as a gaijin!!! There were times when I was "invited to leave" a yatai by some creepy Japanese guy who was probably one of those ultra-nationalists who drive those big white and black vans with the loud speakers yelling about how bad the foreigners are amoung other things. I have also heard about a very powerful uchi deshi who totally flew off the handle at some poor guy who failed to bring his personal camera to dojo event - because the guy normally did (eventhough he was never asked to do so). The poor guy simply didn't bring his camera to one event, and there was a this uchi deshi yelling in rage at him while dragging about 5 people (his seniors!) across the floor to get at this poor guy. That uchi deshi is a terribly nice guy and I never thought he would lose it like that. My point is that, you can't avoid every problem.

I have some rental units. Sometimes I think I being a wonderful landlord and next thing you know I'm dealing with an angry tenant who might have some serious anger management issues. You never know. Pressure can get to people and people do snap.

Rob
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Old 04-14-2005, 09:00 AM   #68
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Ki Symbol Re: causing no (serious) harm

Aikido to me was always meant as a pain-less way of self-defense. You know, to deter the "attacker" while taking care that he does not get hurt. However, that's not always possible. Sometimes all you need to worry about is your own safety.

If you arrest a mime, do you have tell him he has the right to remain silent?
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Old 04-14-2005, 10:39 AM   #69
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Just curios, how do you deal with the kamikazi attack? I know many people who would be more than willing to take atemi in the nose or let you break their fingers or wrist if they could get to your neck, etc.

Rob
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Old 04-15-2005, 06:53 PM   #70
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Ron, excellent question! A real fighter isnt going to back off at afew good shots, much less a little broken finger or hurt wrist! In most my fights i didnt even feel the pain until it was over. Besides, a fight doesnt last long, maybe 30 seconds at the very most and thats pushing it, unless its a multiples situation. Attackers arent trying to come at you easy and go 3 or 4 rounds pacing themselves, its gonna be off the hook for about 15 or 20 seconds and then its done! Almost anyone, even someone thats not really trying to hurt you can take some pain for 15 or 20 seconds. I have asked this question of many street fighters as well as NHB/MMA and the answer is always the same, "ya just dont feel it that much". What ends things quick are chokes, AND "if you can do it" repeat striking to vital areas and eye goudges. Even then it depends on your attacker, especially if they have a high pain tolerance with the mindset to match and really want to hurt you. This of course addresses empty hand situations alone, if you give me a blade, ill target vital anatomy i.e juglar, liver, kidneys, abdominal aorta, intestines aka what we call the "blueworm" I can access them quickly and efficiently while being assured my attacker will cease within afew seconds. Good blade work strives for this, if your life is truly in danger you end the confrontation, period, not just break something. In the end it really all boils down to how your training and who you have been training against! Its very important to train those wild crazy unpredictable attacks that just keep comming one on one, multiple opponents, with and without weapons or whatever. Get you some (minimal) safety equipment and try it, youll see what im talking about. Your attributes will evolve to a place you never thought possible.
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Old 04-16-2005, 07:33 PM   #71
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

I meant to type Rob not Ron, my fingers got away from me
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Old 04-17-2005, 01:15 AM   #72
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

I think generally it means that one should do what is necessary to resolve a situation, not purposefully hurting someone just because you can.

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Old 04-17-2005, 01:48 AM   #73
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

I heard a story about what "Fuji" means. I'm told that the etymology of the character "fu" as in Mount Fuji basically means "2" as in futatsu, but really more like 2 opposites (yin and yang). I'm told that there are many examples of putting "fu" in front of things to make the meaning become "opposite" read as "not". The "ji" of "Fuji" also means "2". So the idea is that when you look at Mt. Fuji you see one side, and you know there must be another side (that you cannot see) - but the word means "not 2" - as in there are not two sides, only one mountain.

In aikido, there are not 2 people (uke and nage), but only one reconciled unit.

My opinion, is that working towards doing the "minimum damage" required to stay safe as the attackers become more sophisticated, more dramatic and intense, less concerned for their own safety, and as the number of attackers increases approaches this ideal in the most practical way to approach the ideal of purifying our will to violence.
.
It forces you to need to start figuring out how to reconcile the opposites of self and other - to have some degree of integrity with these principles when being pressed hard by your attacker(s).

This kind of approach, to me, has led me to the understanding that I need to continue to not buy into the delusion of separation (on the vertical plane). I must continue to move such in such a way to set up the circumstances that continue to draw/lead energy out of the uke primarily (and not into me in a destructive way of course) so that we can reconcile in a physical way. Normally, I see people in aikido misunderstanding this kind of thing (IMO!) where they end up just doing some kind of evasive movement and then they crank the uke from superior position. I don' t mean that low level nonsense. I mean, lead them out and unify (reconcile self and other) so that we both are contributing to the overall movement so it cannot be countered. Doing "minimal damage" lead me to that kokyu of social-coordination approach (instead of concentrating _only_ on the kokyu of self-coordination which I find to be interesting but obviously not the goal of aikido or we would all be doing Chen style tai chi or something!).

Finding efficacy within the bounds of do minimal harm and constantly refining towards being able to safely and effectively do even less harm with the same attack - then increasing the level of the attacks removes many of the mundane delusions like directly pushing, pulling, lifting, cranking/paining/threatening the uke, etc. I agree that it can only be done from a place where you have the choice to be lethal.

Rob
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Old 04-17-2005, 07:48 AM   #74
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
My opinion, is that working towards doing the "minimum damage" required to stay safe as the attackers become more sophisticated, more dramatic and intense, less concerned for their own safety, and as the number of attackers increases approaches this ideal in the most practical way to approach the ideal of purifying our will to violence.
Your idea can be extended back to before the conflict actually develops to the point where physical interaction becomes inevitable. Since most attackers are known to the person being attacked, not a stranger leaping out of the bushes as is commonly portrayed on TV and in the movies, lethal response is more often than not an undesirable outcome of the situation. Moreover, one has to consider that attacks are rarely physical. The probability is greater that you will be attacked non-physically far more often than you will be physically assaulted. I don't see "beingassaultedbybadlanguage shihonage" as a particularly appropriate technique.
Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
It forces you to need to start figuring out how to reconcile the opposites of self and other - to have some degree of integrity with these principles when being pressed hard by your attacker(s).
This is especially important when one is involved in conflicts on the job, at home, in school etc; in short, those places where one is most likely to be involved in conflicts that don't start out as but can escalate to becoming physically violent.
Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
In aikido, there are not 2 people (uke and nage), but only one reconciled unit.
This being the case we must acknowledge that conflict arises as a result of the actions of the constituents of the unit and that reconciliation cannot occur without coordinated action of both parties. To that end if we can own our responsibility in helping bring about the conflict we can take the first step in defusing it before it reaches the flash point.
Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
I mean, lead them out and unify (reconcile self and other) so that we both are contributing to the overall movement so it cannot be countered.
I watched some video of the second Doshu on the Aikido Journal site the other day. I was amazed at how soft and subtle his technique was. Adhering to the principle above leads to that kind of technique where nage and uke are moving together in accordance, not discordance. It is what I strive to attain in my own practice and what I try to instill in my students.

Interesting post Rob, lots of food for thought.
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Old 04-17-2005, 07:35 PM   #75
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Re: causing no (serious) harm

Rob, you wrote:

"My opinion, is that working towards doing the "minimum damage" required to stay safe as the attackers become more sophisticated, more dramatic and intense, less concerned for their own safety, and as the number of attackers increases approaches this ideal in the most practical way to approach the ideal of purifying our will to violence.
.
It forces you to need to start figuring out how to reconcile the opposites of self and other - to have some degree of integrity with these principles when being pressed hard by your attacker(s).

This kind of approach, to me, has led me to the understanding that I need to continue to not buy into the delusion of separation (on the vertical plane). I must continue to move such in such a way to set up the circumstances that continue to draw/lead energy out of the uke primarily (and not into me in a destructive way of course) so that we can reconcile in a physical way. Normally, I see people in aikido misunderstanding this kind of thing (IMO!) where they end up just doing some kind of evasive movement and then they crank the uke from superior position. I don' t mean that low level nonsense. I mean, lead them out and unify (reconcile self and other) so that we both are contributing to the overall movement so it cannot be countered. Doing "minimal damage" lead me to that kokyu of social-coordination approach (instead of concentrating _only_ on the kokyu of self-coordination which I find to be interesting but obviously not the goal of aikido or we would all be doing Chen style tai chi or something!)."



Hi Rob,

Two questions or lines of thought came to mind upon reading the above section of your post:

1. How or why does training toward the gaining of a non-violent (or less injurious) technology purify our will to violence? Certainly, we cannot say because our training takes on the ideal of minimum injurious or non-violence. After all, do we not already have this as an ideal -- as something that comes to most of us through our culture alone? Can we not, as always, find ways of disregarding our ideals, no matter how virtuous they may be? Does this not mean then that time spent with an ideal is not really the issue here? When I first proposed the notion of purifying our will to violence, I did not mean to suggest that we can do such a thing simply by making greater and greater efforts toward being non-violent. I imagine you may also mean something different from that as well -- hence my questions here. A will to violence is only partially born out of an ignorance to do or be otherwise, just as it is also only partially born out of a lack of effort to do or be otherwise. Hence, for me, simply supplying a kind of "wisdom" or a kind of "non-injurious technology," or simply providing a kind of meta-practical outlet for people to mundanely explore the already pre-existent social ideal of non-violence one to a few hours a week, is going to leave a lot unturned and/or unpurified. In the same way that training in the use of a Taser may make one relatively less injurious but not necessarily purified of one's will to violence, so too, I would suggest, training toward a non-injurious Aikido would fail in such a purification. This is one reason why, as the Taser becomes more and more widely used and thus comes to replace actual arrest and control skills and/or the soon to be completely defunct "controlling" use of the club (ballistically), we will see more and more Taser-related deaths and/or public outcry against the use of the "non-violent" weapon. Such things do not get to the heart of the problem whether we are wising to address that heart (will to violence) practically or spiritually. Thus, for example, it may be the case that we can acquire a skill to subdue many kinds of attacks without injury to the attacker, but will this make us more patient, more humble, more kind, less prone to hatred, less prone to anger, less prone to desire, less prone to ignorance, less prone to fear, etc.? And will not these things come to plague us daily in many other areas of our life where we may not be in a "fight" but where we may very well be prone to injure others by these things because of that same unpurified will to violence that is left untouched by the discovery of a technique?

2. By a complicated set of circumstances, which I imagine could be deduced, at least generally speaking, we do not see a coordination of people training realistically (i.e. as you said, where "attackers become more sophisticated, more dramatic and intense, less concerned for their own safety, and as the number of attackers increases," etc.) AND training under the banner or toward the ideal of gaining a martial technology of minimum-injury. As I said, there are of course deducible reasons for such a trend in the Aikido world -- many of them have been brought up in this forum here. However, willing to assume that such reasons and the trend they support do not have to make up an inevitable connection, the fact remains that a great many people are able to say they train where attackers become more sophisticated and intense, with less concern for their own safety, etc., but are in actuality quite far from this. I do not wish to regress this point into the usual line of thought where "what's real" is all that we can talk about, etc. But, for example, when we use phrases like "more sophisticated" can we not at least note something that moves further and further from or beyond the level of Shu training? Moreover, can we not mean something that is at least outside the average or identifying training culture of Aikido? I would say "yes" to both of these questions, and yet I believe that this is even more rare a connection to see in the Aikido world. That is to say, you do not generally see a distancing from kihon waza, and/or Shu level training, and/or a technical sophistication of martial triggers or cues (e.g. attacks) in the general Aikido world -- even in dojo that are known for training in "real" Aikido. Institution after institution is geared against such things and individual practitioners that are connected to an institution are prone to follow suit. So what do you do to sophisticate your training, or what does one need to do to sophisticate his/her training? Or more importantly, how often does one need to sophisticate his/her training? For example, do you move away from the abstract ballistic strikes of kihon waza training to the varied angled and timed strikes of left hook or the right cross or the uppercut on a weekly or daily basis? How often? How often does one need to allow the ground-fighting option or the inclusion of kicks and/or hidden weapons in order to bring some purifying efficacy to the training? Etc.

dmv

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