A great article on the Aiki Journal website by Nev Sagiba which I thought warranted repeating…
Some of my students have worked and still do work the floors of the large chain stores for many years. One in particular stands out. I’ll call him D… to protect his professional anonymity.
Where it is possible to do so, he quietly approaches the shoplifter and says, “You’ve been caught..” speaks quietly with them. At least 60% of the time they follow him in quietly. No physical contact is required. D…’s Zanshin is sharp. Recently when walking to an embukai together, I was getting a running commentary on who was walking out with what, which thieves were professional or amateur and other details of the profession which must remain classified. “Put it down, D…” I said; “You’re off duty now.” I learnt to put it down years ago, I still notice, but I let it go. Even superman would get tired being on the case full time but D… still enjoys the job. Anyway after quite a few years Z.. recently got promoted to an administrative position. Well earned, I might add, and as a result we might see him back at training soon.
D… does not look ‘tough’. As with most of the better security personnel I have had the privilege to know, you could not pick him. In fact when there’s a movie star in town and the bodyguards are short staffed he always gets assigned because he has the looks and blends in nicely. He enjoys these rare occasions and the reprieve from the violence of the store floor and street on such assignments.
D… is a quiet, modest and gentle soul who prefers ‘the easy way’. Over time, there’s been knife, gun, syringe, armed gang attacks.. you name it. When the other security staff run in fear, they call out: “Where’s D…?” and always he resolves it and brings in the suspects. And yet he’s the only staff member who consistently, over many years, has never sustained any injury in the job. Even on the occasions he had to rescue several police from very vicious attacks in holding cells.
I could go on. War stories can be both fun and educational but become trite in the face of such consummate skill at de-escalation and notwithstanding, good record of successful task performance.
What is it this guy has got the others don’t? I mean they do some stupid things because most of them do not train and become confused by their own fear. And there are many badly handled incidents. For example, one of the ex-senior staff is being sued for wrestling a 50 year old lady to the floor, tearing her clothes off and injuring her. On mere suspicion!! How do you spell stupid? The other staff have sustained numerous injuries and even been hospitalised in the aftermath of brutal attacks and reprisals. And yet when things go really bad they always call for D…. He trains Aikido. The Japanese police require Aikido training as mandatory. Good move.
Many security guards do not have a clue. Worse so, some have sociopathic tendencies and hide behind the role so they can get an opportunity to hurt people. Happens regularly, a mere arrest turns into a murder. Its a disgrace and a black mark against the industry. Thugs and cowboys belong on the other side of the metal bars.
Anyhow what is it D…’s got?
After quite a few years he does not train at the dojo now, though everyone wants him back, (Now in training, with D… this pure soul if you don’t do the technique right, nothing happens, yet he brings the same gentle power and respect into the dojo).
“What do you put your success down to?” I recently asked him.
Invariably the reply is: “Aikido training and the fact no matter how bad people seem, I always treat them with the utmost respect possible. They feel that and usually reciprocate. They must have their own inner struggles. Just because I’m arresting them does not mean I have a right to misbehave. Nor does it make me in any way superior to them.”
“What, even when laying on of hands?”
“Yep, I see it as a form of healing,” he says. “They seldom do struggle to the point of a break, really small percentage, but notwithstanding Aiki heals the mind of violent tendencies.”
D… can back up his gentleness with thunder when called for. But D… does not hold people’s foibles against them, rather behaves with compassion even in the midst of violent necessity. He says, “My job is not to judge anyone or to mete out any punishment. That’s for the courts. I’m just helping minimise crime in the best way I know how. It’s just a job.”
And in making it easy for others he makes life easier for himself too.
D… genuinely loves people and he takes charge of situations with an attitude of quiet respect, a smile and a friendly word and only uses ‘backup’ if and when necessary.
Now that, as far as I can see, is good practical Aikido at many levels.