As an Aikido practitioner, I always look at conflict from a perspective that includes the principles of aiki. Of particular interest to me is how the principles of Aikido can be manifested in government and international relations. One issue that screams out for the principles of nonviolent conflict resolution is the Israel Palestine conflict.Recently, rockets fired from the Palestinian Territories have rained down on Israel.
Aikido is meant to deal with deadly attack so this should be a condition that is ripe for the application of Aikido principles to help bring about a lasting peace. The answer is really quite simple and easy to institute. But for fear, peace could be created in a matter of days, if not hours, after the initial rocket attacks.
To be fair, this solution, though effective and simple and as easy as it really is, may face difficulty in being executed. Most people involved in conflict resolution view the process as achieving peace when the opposition relents and finally agrees with them. The inability or lack of desire of most people to practice an art of conflict resolution in which satisfaction for all parties involved is the main priority, reflects the self-preserving nature of ego, whether expressed by an individual or by a group. The ego intentions of individuals or groups of like-minded individuals often reflect the desire to win, if not to have more than one’s adversary at the end of the interaction, reflecting a loss of something of the adversary, then to have what one desires despite the desires of the adversary.When an individual or group wants to come out ahead at the expense of the other, it is impossible to operate in a state in which aiki will manifest from the actions of that individual or group.
Aikido requires selflessness to work as it is intended. For many, this kind of selfless approach is foreign and frightening.
Reflecting on the requirement of selflessness, the fear of it is largely the idea that selflessness means subjugation to the other party. However, any solution that requires one to “lose” is not a manifestation of aiki, as true aiki never creates a winner and a loser. Therefore the aiki answer does not include “losing” to create peace.
If Aiki is present, neither party will feel disadvantaged in any way.
This may sound strange when compared to the way Aikido looks when an attacker ends his action on the ground, but when Aikido manifests out of beneficent intention, the attacker does not feel defeated by this path to the floor, but taken care of. The connective properties of ki expressed to another naturally feel good to both participants, even in the midst of the physical expression of an attack.
In our Aiki-Lab practice, we work from ukemi. That is, uke’s attack is meant to energetically pierce the central core of nage and continue to do so throughout the interaction. Practicing this way instead of by technique emulation gives one a wholly different perspective of how much we, as nages, get into the way of aiki manifesting because of our fear responses.
In our Aiki-Lab way of practicing, the only thing that is going to produce an aiki-resolution (what others might call a fall or throw) is if uke continues his authentic attack energy flow to nage’s center and if nage does not counter attack, defend, or withdraw, but rather responds from a place of beneficent intention, thereby creating a flow of energy that supports uke as uke follows his attack’s path to the ground.
One of the things we learn from this kind of practice is that the greatest connective properties of a flood of ki from nage to uke is inclusiveness. The sincere attitude of “we’re in this together” creates an energetic bond between partners that is deeply satisfying, and it gives the attacker the ability to give up the attack without repercussions.
In the practice of Aikido there is also a principle of “entering.” In one sense it pertains to the movement of irimi, or moving into a close proximity that makes it bio-mechanically impossible for the attack to have an impact. But in another way it means to take action as soon as the intention to attack is forming in the mind of the attacker. Since the goal is not to win but to unify, the entering is not about taking an early advantage but about addressing the problem before it develops into something more destructive.
With those two principles in place we can see an instant solution to the rocket attacks. The rocket attacks from Hamas originate in detectable positions but rain down randomly upon Israel. Since the Israeli defenses know where the rockets are coming from, Hamas populates the area with civilians, making counter attacks from Israel fall inevitably on non-combatants.
This practice puts Israel in an unfortunate position from a military perspective because it will have to kill innocent civilians in order to take out the rocket launching positions. The Palestinian death rate is far greater than that of Israel’s thereby making Israel’s response look overbearing and promoting greater animosity toward Israel by the Palestinian populace (outside of Hamas).
If the population of Israel could operate within the principles of Aikido as expressed through the properties of entering and inclusion, they would put an end to the rocket barrage in a day and actually make the steps toward lasting peace from a solid foundation.
The way this would be accomplished is by opening the borders and sincerely welcoming Palestinians into their land, into their homes and businesses, and into their lives. This cannot work if the attitude motivating this action is anything but inclusiveness, that is, Palestinians must be treated as guests and as family. When the population of Palestine is completely commingled with Israelis in Israel, any rocket launched by Hamas would be landing on Palestinians as well as Israelis.
With sincere intention that peace be attained without winner or loser, the heartfelt desire to share would bring these so-called Palestinian “human shields” into shields against aggression. Should Hamas be seen as indiscriminately killing fellow Palestinian countrymen, women and children of their own in their pursuits of an overthrow of Israel, their support among Palestinians would disappear and they would be seen to be ineffective at best and more likely detrimental to the Palestinians as a whole.
From an economical perspective, it is far less costly to host new friends than it is to fund a standing army always ready for battle at moment’s notice. The social cost of learning to appreciate the differences between cultures is far less than the pain of coping with constant fear of the other.
By transcending fear, trust comes about naturally.
In Aikido we find that entering with an open heart, rather than making one vulnerable, as the ego would have us believe, gives the Aikido practitioner unfathomable power to bring about the nonviolent solution. This courage, practiced by the good and loving people of Israel, will reverberate throughout the Middle East, and if they can, in the face of onslaught, maintain their openness and inclusive attitude in the hopes that Israelis and Arabs, who share the same basic needs as all human cousins, will be satisfied in equality, they will be loved as brothers and sisters throughout the world, and peace will come quickly and with minimal cost.
This article was submitted exclusively to Aikido no Sekai by Corky Quakenbush Sensei. All rights reserved. You can also submit Aikido or Peace related articles to Aikido no Sekai via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Corky Quakenbush Sensei
In December 14 1983 (O’Sensei’s 100th birthday), Corky Sensei, based in Los Angeles, California, began practicing Aikido. Initially a student in the Mitsugi Saotome Sensei’s lineage (Aikido Schools of Ueshiba) and then in Koichi Tohei’s lineage through Seidokan, Corky Sensei was awarded the rank of Shodan in 1994 by Don O’Bell Sensei.
Corky Sensei benefitted from training with various teachers, particularly the late Kanshu Sunadomari Shihan before abandoning technique practice in 2004 to develop a martially sound yet truly nonviolent, ukemi based teaching model he calls “Aiki-Lab.”
Using authentic attack energy rather than collusive ukemi, Corky Sensei has designed Aiki-Lab to bring beginners and advanced practitioners to Takemusu Aiki through the embodiment of beneficent intention. Takemusu Aiki is Aikido that spontaneously manifests without set forms, and was said by O’Sensei to be the highest ideal of the art of Aikido.
At present, Corky Quakenbush Sensei is the chief instructor of Kakushi Toride Aikido.
(Please also see: “Should Aikido be Effective?“)