There is so much talk in the martial arts about which art is better. Most people assume that means better for fighting and that is the purpose of study. But for many of us in the arts the reverse is true.
If you’re threatened and you have to fight of course the preferred concept is to win and with a determined enemy that may mean doing whatever it takes to stop their attack, including fighting to the death. However, the more your strength enables you to protect yourself the less fear makes your decisions for you. Strength allows you to engage with an attacker without having to hurt them, to protect yourself and possibly even them as well. Strength, if that is the word, or power or ability, allows you to face any challenge creatively instead of reactively.
The power of harmony makes it possible to learn from our differences and consider intelligently together instead of attaching to our beliefs exaggerating our differences and ending up in a fight to the death over whose idea or approach is better, which, seems to be our preferred approach in the realms of politics and religion. What if we could come to a satisfactory solution creating understanding and mutual benefit, instead of letting fear take us into aggression and its reciprocating echoes.
Too bad in politics and religion, we don’t take the approach we commonly see in music and cuisine. There, we tend to learn and be influenced by each other’s knowledge, thinking and creativity. We creatively combine differences.
For me Aikido is not about fighting. I’ve studied almost 50 years and never had to ‘use it on the street’ in a fight. Because, as one teacher put it, “I use it the right way.” In the approach that interests me, Aikido training helps me transform my fear into creative energy so I can work with people and ideas that scare me. Call it strength, courage, heart or spirit, that power enables the potential of dialogue, learning, growth, understanding, creating new ways of being in the world in harmony with each other.
In war the enemy’s humanity is stripped away. We do that to justify inhuman treatment of other humans. So wouldn’t it follow, nurturing humanity in people is the way to peace? Funny as it may seem that is where some of us, who study ‘martial arts’, find fulfillment.
In the words of the founder of Aikido,
“Therefore to compete in techniques, winning and losing is not true budo. True budo knows no defeat. Never defeated means never fighting.
Winning means winning over the mind of discord in yourself. It is to accomplish your bestowed mission.
This is not mere theory. You practice it. Then you will accept the great power of oneness with Nature.”