What would Ueshiba say?

Special Blog Post:

Because I want to get a lot of feedback on this, I’m writing this article in english. That way, I am hoping for any non-german visitors to read this and share they’re thoughts about this topic. Thank you.

So, recently I am thinking about a few questions concerning Aikido and how it is practiced and understood. Well, here in germany, a lot of dojos advertise Aikido as being a gentle art. Where you not hurt your opponent, or worse, like crippling, or even killing, him.

And because of that, you get the impression that Aikido might be something like a pacifistic martial art. But isn’t that kinda a contradiction in itself? So take a look at some teacher I read about. I am not talking one of the big names like Saito, Tohei and so on. I don’t remember his name anymore, I read an article about him in the german „Aikido Journal“. He talked about how he thinks that in Aikido there should be no pain at all for uke. Even Nikkyo and the other katame waza should be performed to control uke, but without inflicting any pain.

At first I thought, that it is a great idea. And surely it takes years of perfectioning the techniques to be able to control your partner without inflicting any pain. But on the other hand I was thinking: Why has it to be that extreme? Was it ever meant to be that way?

Let me do a little excourse here: For some weeks I am also training in Mixed Martial Arts now, to widen my horizon about martial arts.  And especially in those adrenaline driven combat sports, I, for myself, came to the realisation that a katame waza like nikkyo wouldn’t work there, if it was not inflicting pain.

For once the fighter in a match (and if you are in a self defense situation) are totally pumped with adrenaline, so their feeling of pain is already reduced. And if you are pumped to get the other guy, I don’t think you will calm down in a position were you don’t feel pain. Because except maybe that you can’t move freely, there is nothing what would give you a reason to quit.

And even so, do you think Ueshiba intended these techniques to be „painless“?

In many ways it is said, that Ueshiba wanted Aikido to be an art, which brings peace. But how did he meant it?

Was it supposed to be an art, in which all techniques are like „peace“, like they are not there to inflict any pain? Or was it meant, that those techniques are used effective against anyone, who would dare disturbing that peace?

There is a japanese saying about a standing out nail, which will get hammered down. So do we westerners misunderstand Ueshiba and his teachings in a romanticised way?

Is it similar to how we see „Ki“ as some kind of a magical aura? While it might be just a word to describe some biomechanics?

Do we need to be remembered that Aikido was, is and will be a martial art and no zen like practise to become a buddha like figure?

My sensei told us, that Aikido is Budo. It is a martial art. And it comes from many old martial arts, like the Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu. And he said, that it was Ueshiba’s way to form this into Aikido. An art in which we have the choice to be gentle to our opponent and to not hurt him or if it has to be, we can be hard and lethal if you wanted to. And that this is the specialty of Aikido. To have a choice.

Wel, do you think this is what makes Aikido special? Or do you think, every other art has also this choice? What makes Aikido special to you?

A lot of thoughts, that I have written down now. I will come to an end at this point and I hope I get a lot of comments and opinions on this.

So maybe, I can continue this thoughts with your feedback in a later article.

Onegai shimasu お願いします

Comments (1)

DeshiFebruar 25th, 2010 at 18:08

We have this discussion a lot at my Dojo. When Uke attacks should it be a slow and deliberate move or should Uke attack like he means it?
A lot on techniques rely on some commitment from the Uke to work properly.

As you say Aikido is a MARTIAL art. Peace and love and tree hugging aren’t very martial are they?

I also read about the older masters and their training techniques which are often quite brutal. Take a look at Angry White Pyjama’s by Robert Twigger (http://bit.ly/cXK3vI) in which he mentions barely being able to walk after a heavy training session.

I feel that Martial arts should be just that.

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