Another good article by Nev Sagiba
The methodology of aiki combat is to seek to finalise quickly. Other attackers are coming. Its basis is kime, conclusive and quick decisiveness.
In faking this for training beginners in today’s modern Aikido, it becomes possible to miss the very important parts which make the whole technique. And more so the essence of Aikido itself, which is the movements of nature and the universe, combinations, conjoined creatively for purposes of imminent survival. When this process is propagated without understanding, blindness is passed on intergenerationally hidden in plain sight. The practical essence of Aikido thus becoming “lost,’ yet secretly preserved in a dance of inanity, waiting for someone with eyes to see, to notice it and revive it again.
The process of faking technique in order to learn should be grown out of in six months or so of serious training. When it is not, the practical value of Aikido is lost and with it also any true spiritual merit it may have had. By analogy nobody praises an architect-builder whose buildings topple over because of shoddy practice. He is neither deemed to be practical, nor spiritual. Kihon, basic core techniques are the essential springboard for useful spontaneous flow. You cannot compose freely and effectively when you have no grasp of basics. This applies to all skills, in all fields. Soden or Kihon, the Core Techniques are the ABC and the Do-Re-Mi. Make no mistake of that. Tendentious waffle is only acceptable if it can be backed up by stepping onto the mat with a real fighter and proving contentions by putting one’s money where one’s mouth is. Then even unintelligible talk about Tengu and lights in the sky will be listened to most attentively.
In a relatively safe society it can be all too easy to say, “I do this ‘martial art; called Aikido, but please don’t attack me for real because it does not work as a useful tool of defensive combat. I practice it for ‘spiritual’ reasons.”
To be kind, this is cooky at best. In fact it is far worse than that. What is the definition of “spiritual?” Good feelings? A hot shower, a cup of coffee or scratching an itch “feel good,” but are they “spiritual” or rather, a weird way of living in closeted denial of facing facts? (Not the scratch, shower and coffee; the deluded feel good attitude.) Does a satisfactory definition for the word “spiritual” exist, or is it something we merely use to cover up ambiguity?
In all matters of skill and service to others, a feasible standard of excellence and accountability must be present. Aikido is no exception.
Recitation of poorly understood phrases does not constitute “spirituality” either. You can quote religious scriptures and then make murderous war in the name of an idea about a god. It’s been done. That is not “spiritual” but rather cannibal. It entangles in the paranoid fears of mental illness which imagines that contest is the only way to do things. Whether as a sport or as a murderous enactment, contest remains a deeply rooted disease of the psyche, the manifestation of defective evolution and the incomplete spirituality we are required to heal, if our species is to progress to the next level. Otherwise we shall become extinct; and mixing our metaphors just ain’t gonna cut it. Or get us meaningfully noticed by any “god.”
Now the paradox. Why finalise quickly? Does it not appear that I’m contradicting myself here? Not at all. Protracted bickering, whether verbal, as in a sick relationship, or using death-dealing arms as in the sick relationships between nations, is the festering sore that won’t heal. The suppressed boil of the soul which turns into gangrene of a relationship eventually imploding within its carrier.
As the Founder of Aikido made more than abundantly clear, “Our mission is to foster a dynamic peace, by protecting, nurturing and caring for all life.”
On this basis, any true attack must be properly defended. This needs be achieved swiftly, with early and clear identification, precision, justice, care and as compassionately as possible, and yet as ruthlessly as necessary. Get it over with. Battle, defence is not a “sport” but a disease. It should not be addressed lightly but harmony restored quickly and conclusively. If we do not have such skill, whether individually or as a humanity, the time is well overdue that we find a way to get it without excuses. After that, as always the re-establishment and maintaining of integrity for all concerned is paramount.
Until the time arrives that we are equipped to make all contention more difficult than it is now, we do not dare call ourselves either “human” or “spiritual.” Because we commit criminal activity from a distance as cowards with technology, or by proxy sending others where they do not belong, we prove we are no different to a cannibal tribe. We need to get to work. There is a lot, a great deal of work to catch up in with our own lost growth of understanding and the ability to express correctly. Interfering in the affairs of others or permitting interference never gets good outcomes. Interference is the essence of criminality and all sound jurisprudence relies on the principle of mitigating it as its basis for just law. Whether we feel comfortable with this fact or not is irrelevant.
The Universe is not about to alter one atom to suit our whims. We shall adapt or forever disappear as did the dinosaurs.
When does aikijutsu then become Aikido? When the paradigm of maintaining and restoring harmony is so fully entrenched that violence becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible to initiate, because knowing the outcomes, it then also becomes undesirable. This is not possible under the paradigm of long drawn out, protracted and unskilled reprisals and counter reprisals which generally never end until all concerned are dead, having distracted each other thus, from more urgent adversities.
The true economy of harmony is where everyone wins except those who choose to be losers by initiating attack and infringing. In this case, karma becomes instant when the misdirected energy rebounds upon the attacker as a result of the well-centered and skilled integrity of the protector. This is neither achieved by attacking (not even in the name of “defence”) nor “defending” in the conventional sense (usually stupidly and with greater brutality), but rather by economically utilising the energy of the attack to restore active harmony.
Yes, this is rare skill but it is only rare because it is not currently common as the predominating paradigm of choice. And this, perhaps, is because it requires facing the pain of change to develop true skill, a not commonly attractive proposition to the complacent and mentally lazy. But this can be changed. In time, nolens volens, it will have to be learned, refined and applied at all strata of human infrastructure if we as a species are to continue to exist. At the time when the Aikido paradigm becomes manifest on a grand scale, we will have graduated and thus begun on the path of the true human.
Until then we will continue to struggle, with ourselves, with others, with the real, with the imaginary and with the universe itself, because all gifts of challenge will be seen as attacks of adversity and unable to be tapped as a resource. Such attitudes sink ships.
The Aikido attitude is to learn to navigate decisively and constructively despite storms and changes, not just on fine days. And to deal with real and often unexpected aggression, not by escalating it, or running, but in a way that restores and heals.
The world can be a better, safer place but this will not come as either a heavenly dispensation inflicted upon us from “above,” nor under the auspices of some inflicted “ism” or another. Rather, it depends on each of us making the personal choice to wake up to that immense portion of our own potential that still sleeps.
In the meantime the ideal can best be worked towards by honing real skill and optimal decision making responses for each day. This is best achieved by practice and in meeting real life as we know it as the ultimate meditation.
So also in reaching for the “ideal” Aikido, mere mimicry will not help. First, as some say, we have to practice “hard style” before “soft style” can become effective, not the other way around. In other words, it must at least resemble what would be effective in a real situation. Thereby we can extract the secret teachings inside Aikido which can lead to more refined levels of both practice and understanding.