Is violence a fact of life? It has many faces, some obvious, such as war, physical fights and altercations where the individual is assailed by an attacker(s); some more subtle - psychological violence in its myriad forms where you are attacked through words and acts that fall short of physical contact from the outside - yet often have an impact upon you that can lead to ill health, or the emotional inability to cope successfully within your environment.
Exposure to media coverage of violence alone is enough for most of us to feel negatively stressed, and we think we can do little about it except perhaps look after our "own yard of turf". We all wish to live healthy and happy lives yet have media violence "force fed" to us constantly. You hear, see, and almost feel both real and fictional violence. It is even possible that developments in computer driven "virtual reality" will usher in the "feelies" and then all of us can be degraded by violence. Violence begets violence, and all of us should personally be responsible and decide whether or not to break this "cycle of violence". The media long ago made the connection with violence and sales. The "beast" within us is stirred by violence, and we are "stressfully unaware" that what we are being fed is a sure diet of ill health and unhappiness.
You and need to be able to deal with the violence that comes from without and from within. We have to decide whether to turn our back on violence, to face it, or to turn it around; as you are reading this magazine, you most likely have chosen to face it - probably confrontationally. Now when you choose to face it, you should know what sort of person you are and what sort of person you would like to be. Write your own obituary (the way you would like to be remembered), and then ask yourself, whether any of your family or friends could honestly read it aloud at your funeral and be believed. The challenge of violence in everyday life is a big one. You've decided that there are situations when you would have to "defend" yourself or others. Will you choose to do so by developing your attacking skills, your defending skills, or a mixture of both? What you decide, should be a reflection of the kind of person you are or wish to become. The attacking and the defend-attack approaches assume that you feel comfortable smashing in faces and breaking bones with your own hands and feet; that this fits with your view of the person you would like to be. If so, you will not want to train Aikido.
Do not be confused by Hollywood's Steven Seagal; action movies most often address our frustrated "beast" in a voyeuristic way and we should not take them seriously. None of the characters Steven Seagal plays could possibly be an Aikidoka, even though they do apply some Aikido techniques; this is because Aikido is a philosophy, a culture and techniques; without all three being in place there is no Aikido. The philosophy and the culture are not apparent in any of Seagal's movies. We "researched" four of his films and found a total of forty minutes of "fighting" of which approximately three and a half minutes was Aikido technique. I hope to cover Seagal's "Aikido" techniques in some detail in coming issues of Blitz.
Any true Aikido Sensei would not get involved in the entertainment industries exploitation of violence. Morihei Ueshiba, "O Sensei", the founder of Aikido said: "it is far better to defeat an opponent spiritually ( by making him realise fhe folly of his actions) and then he will gladly abandon the attack. Those who practice competition are making a grave mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst sin a human being can commit. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent slaughter - it is the Art of Peace, the power of love. Aikido begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow, You are here for no other purpose than to realise your inner divinity' and manifest your innate enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.
Victory means to defeat the mind of contention that we harbour within. To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control aggression without inflicting injury is Aikido. The Way of the Warrior, the Art of Peace, is to stop trouble before it starts. It consists in defeating your adversaries spiritually by making them realise the folly of their actions. The Way of the Warrior is to establish harmony. The divine is not something high above us. It is in heaven, it Is in earth, it is inside us".
Aikido is for those of us who choose to face violence with "non-confrontational defence"; who wish to enlighten the attacker. To counter-attack would be to enter his world, his way of doing things, and his state of being; to let your beast out with his. To realise that attack is not the only way, but no way at all, is to liberate yourself from the vicious cycle of violence.
You should be able to get an intellectual appreciation of some Aikido from the photographs of some Aikido defence techniques. To be a true student of Aikido you must whole heartedly attempt to apply the techniques, the philosophy, and the culture of Aiki to all violent situations for the rest of your life; perhaps too high a goal for anyone who has not yet chosen the path to enlightenment. We Aikidoka need to train...train...train... because it helps the beast to sleep while we get on with the real business of our lives!