Correcting others

“Aikido is not for correcting others; it is for correcting your own mind”

I’ve started reading Journey into the Heart of Aikido, recommended by my own sensei. It’s interesting how many books on Aikido focus on stories about its founder, Morihei Ueshiba. Every school of martial arts sees its founder as the best such artist, and Aikido is no exception. But what strikes me here is how important the spiritual aspect is to his followers. For as many factions as developed over the years, they all seem to agree on this. Osensei saw Aikido as the martial art of love, a way not only to neutralize an attack but to love your attacker. This still seems like a kind of insanity to me, yet a paradox I find fascinating. He was open to the connectedness of all things in a way that perhaps terrifies us. It is much easier to see things as limited by what we assume to be our sphere of control. Anything outside of it can be safely ignored or explained away according to our chosen narratives. Things that intrude can be assimilated or destroyed. However, he calls us to embrace them and let them shape us. To embrace does not, as far as I can tell, mean to submit (i.e. to let your attacker have his way with you). Here it is important to remember that this is a martial art, whose techniques are devastating when one is forced to apply them beyond their limits. Instead it means to move with the other, to be open to resolving the situation in a new way. It is a kind of trust, one that says I will do whatever it takes to stop you, but in a way that will bring you no harm–if you are open to it. If not, then I will still stop you, but I will be sad that I had to break something in you to do so.

Weapons of war are omens of doom / To be loathed by every living thing / And shunned by those who keep the Way / … / Weapons of war are omens of doom / Not to be used unless compelled
Laozi, §31

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