Aikido and Fighting
For me there is so much difference between Aikido and fighting.
I was taught to fight one way as a soldier and combatant, another in karate, another way in judo, another in kenjutsu, and in the use of knife and street fighting techniques yet other ways to fight. Only Aikido offered a way not to fight. I’m a fairly good fighter and a damn good survivor, but I’m proud to say I’m a better Aikidoka. My family is happy for that, as are my students and the society I live in. I think they are much happier than when I was just a good fighter. I believe I’m still as effective a force for peace as ever, and I am at peace within myself. I believe I can effectively defend my home, my community, my dojo and my honor without fighting. It is not the external appearances that define Aikido but the internal state of mind. Is it possible to do Aikido without ever being actively involved in the art of M. Ueshiba Sensei? I believe yes, of course it is. I think it is the true purpose of budo. You don’t ever have to win anything, you just never need to lose.
I have been taught, and I teach, that Aikido is a wholly functional art restricted only by the ability of the practitioner, not the limitations of the art. What sets Aikido apart is a matter of the heart and not the technique. It is a matter of passion for the art being tempered with compassion for the human condition.
We may have a difficult time separating our thoughts, mores, and beliefs from our actions. It may be even harder to reconcile them with our actions at times. I think Aikido and M. Ueshiba Sensei were, and are, pointing out a way this may be done. If one speaks of and seeks peace and love, but then has to fight to gain or keep those ideals, it does not mean that one has to seek war and hate, or that one has to change one’s mind. A person does not have to be of a mind to make war and hate in order to fight as effectively as necessary to prevail. I do not see the dichotomy of “walk softly and carry a big stick”.
I think talk of peace, love and harmony has more to do with how we see ourselves in the scheme of things, all things. I think it is peace, love and harmony in the bigger sense, in a universal sense. It’s nice if we can translate this philosophy into an individual-to-individual relationship, but it’s not necessary in all individual relationships. Sometimes some ass has to get kicked and some names taken. Now, if it serves the principle of universal harmony then we are, I think, approaching M. Usehiba Sensei’s teaching and the function of Aikido. If my enemy’s mind was as my mind, then we would not fight. However, his mind is not mine and he uses his to attack me. My mind still has not changed to one of fighting. If that happens and he is younger, faster, stronger, and better-trained then I will surely lose. However, if he finds nothing to fight against how can he win? (This does not mean that I will not use my Aikido to effectively trash his ass. I most certainly will if I can.) If my Aikido is good, he will find no hard points to attack, grab or enter. Neither in my body or my mind should he find these things. I’m not saying I’m that good because I’m not, but that is what I strive for.
I think one can refuse to get angry, mad, or hateful, and still do what needs doing. If I train with a peaceful and positive mind in the dojo, am I then to go out and let others dictate my mental attitude? I am a fool or very undisciplined if I do. If I do that, then they already control at least a part of me. A very important part. My mind. They are one step closer to victory.
Live your life with a positive attitude and love as many people as you can, and do what needs doing without remorse, hate or anger in your mind. Then you got something worth having.