Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Aikido As A Martial Art

Aikido is a martial art because it is used as a martial art.  That is to say, in case of violence, aikidoists use a system to deal with threats and acts.  The system itself is more principles than forms, thus there are so many styles.  And what styles people adopt are more a matter of weights and measures than orthodoxy.

I was having a beer at the Blue Moon on my daughter's birthday when a fellow slipped me a note informing me he had been at Cafe Racer in Seattle when the gunman came in and killed several people.  I'd recalled the shooting and when I heard, what was it, 5 dead(?) one injured, immediately I thought "talent." Anyone who can manage to kill five scattering people with a handgun is highly trained and likely a natural talent with a gun.  That the fellow was a long-time victim of the medical industry was a given.  Sure enough, the fellow was military trained, so he did what he was trained to do, shoot to kill, and he was drugged, so the drugs did what they were designed to do, and that is eliminate human sympathy.  The only wonder is why we do not have more of these killings given our constant wars and aggressive medicalization.

Why the fellow approached me in the bar, and why he intro'd himself in a note, I do not know why.  I wasn't particularly interested in the topic or him, but I figured when I got another beer I'd acknowledge him and hear him out.  Maybe he just needed to talk.  I think he said he was a vietnam vet, I don't quite recall, but I do recall he related he was the one who began throwing chairs at the shooter at the Cafe Racer shooting.  Apparently there is unreleased surveillance video of this and the whole event.

Now that was interesting, he fought back with chairs against a gunman and survived.  He went straight at the gunman. A natural martial artist. With aikido training, he might have been able to make an arrest as well, since aikido has so many arrest techniques.

Aikido is a martial art because the principle is you go straight at the threat.  Of course this very well may get you killed, but you knew that when you signed up for a martial art.  You'd rather die than be a victim.  But guns are notoriously ill-suited to the task of killing, even when in the hands of native talent.  Aikido-man Ramon Reiser related how in Vietnam the "enemy" kept fighting him hand-to-hand even with plenty of bullet holes incurred.  Most soldiers survive the gunshot wounds they incur, so gunshot does not equal death.

In any event, as a martial art, regardless of the threat we go straight at the threat.  Whatever that yields, if you lose the encounter, hopefully you've reduced the threat to the point where the next martial artist does better, and eventually the threat is neutralized.  If your number is up, it is up.

Now in aikido as a martial art there is much training in the "eight directions."  So straight at the attack should only mean 1 in 8 times straight is head on...  only three of five times you are within peripheral vision.  Five of eight times straight at the attacker you are outside of the attacker's peripheral vision.   One in eight times straight at the attacker means you are directly behind.

So in aikido as a martial art, one goes straight at the threat and uses what techniques, based on the principles, best addresses the threat.  It is in addressing threat that we see aikido is a martial art, because in practice it is used as a martial art.

Given the world we live in,  why every coffee shop does not have a shotgun under the counter, I do not know.  Starbucks welcomes concealed carry customers, and where legal, open carry customers. But then, they have no illusions about the world they live in.  You never know who is armed in Starbucks, and these shooters, trained and drugged to kill, specifically prefer gun-free zones: schools, post offices, and places people are not likely to be armed.

If people are not going to arm themselves, then they should at least train in the martial art of aikido.

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