Sometimes you are the breaker, sometimes you are the breakee ...
-- Dennis Hooker
Here there be dragons ...
-- Old maps, in uncharted waters
If you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche
Budo training involves violence. Yes, even aikido. There is little
more violent in this world than being hit with, well, this world.
Budo training is also about learning to step into that place and
confront the violence, accept it, deal with it and learn to overcome
it. Unless we come to terms with our own capacity for violence, we can
never control it. We might deny it, hide it, run from it, but can
never control it.
Budo training, to me, is ultimately about facing those monsters
inside. It has been, for me, support, therapy, healing, exploration,
education, entertainment and (quite probably) salvation. It has been
agonizing, it has been glorious. It has torn me to pieces and left me
shattered and has given me tools to make myself stronger, better,
happier, more compassionate.
In an ideal dojo in an ideal world, we'd never have injuries on the
mat. However, this is the real world and sometimes we do get hurt and
sometimes we hurt those we train with. And if we have any shred of
compassion or humanity, the injuries we do to others -- those who have
placed their bodies and lives into our hands -- hurt us far more than
those we injure.
What do we do? What should we do? Quit? Run away? Lay down sword and
dogi and leave budo behind?
No. There are too many out there practicing what they call budo
who are too eager to hurt, too eager to pervert this gift we
have. Thank the gods for your compassion and fear! Use that to
make your training even better, to refine your spirit, to enhance your
relationship with your partners.
We owe it to those who have gone before, to those who teach us now, to
our training partners and juniors to continue practicing, to continue
growing, to continue using the tolls budo offers to become better
students and teachers. Every lesson, whether its the joy of flying
across the mat or the utter despair over having hurt a training
partner is precious.
If you decide to quit training, do it because you have ceased to love
the art, not because you fear your internal demons. Those damned
beasties are a blessing in disguise. They offer up the chance to
polish our spirits, make keener the blade of the soul.
And you might as well face them and tame them here and now, because
ultimately, as the bikerdude in Road Warrior said: "You can run, but
you can't hide ..."
Now, shut up and get back to training. You'll never find better
Who has been broken and has, sadly, done some breaking, too.