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Ueshiba Aikido e-Reflections
ISSN 1712-2341
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Jan 21, 2009

"When are we going to fight?"

A student during a class...

This question may arise within the mind of the beginner student.  The student who raised this question to me may not have meant a literal fight of course, but may have wanted to practice at a much faster pace, and be involved in something that resembles a free flowing spar.

We do not learn to fight in Aikido, nor do I train fighters; although the techniques are potentially lethal, and it IS a system of martial (military) self-defence.

The desire to fight implies a need to prove that one is above and better than another.  While determining who is best for a position or job is necessary when competing for employment, when the desire is to overcome another in order to defeat them, and to engage oneself in continuous competition with everyone to be the one and only best, it becomes unhealthy.  This is why there are no competitions in Aikido.  Training to compete develops a certain amount of aggression, and the need to be overbearing in order to put another person down to elevate oneself.

No one is less, or greater, than another.

In Aikido, the first premise is to polish the self, refine the spirit, and focus the mind.  We nurture this through respect, discipline, cooperation, and paired practice in every class.  It is not so much a sparring session but a means to cooperate with each other to study, practice, and learn the different techniques in Aikido effectively.

Practising in this manner cultivates an open spirit and a calm mind.  With no thought of losing or winning, we remain detached to the outcome.  This often has a way of clearing up our (in)sight and perspective, helping us in difficult situations; which ironically serves us better if we have to defend ourselves.

This may be a source of disappointment for some, who look forward to thrashing another in the Dojo in order to find out if the techniques are effective.  We do not fight in the Aikido Dojo, but as O Sensei says, by not having the spirit to have to fight to win, we have already won.

See you in the Dojo.

In peace and harmony,
Rafael Oei Sensei.
(© Copyright January 2009: Rafael Oei)

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