Featured: “An Aikido Solution to Hamas Rocket Attacks” by Corky Quakenbush

A rocket is fired from Gaza towards Israel Photo Credit: Reuters

A rocket is fired from Gaza towards Israel
Photo Credit: Reuters

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.

A Palestinian youth walks through a crater after an Israeli air strike in a residential neighborhoos in Gaza. Photo Credit: Getty Images

A Palestinian youth walks through a crater after an Israeli air strike in a residential neighborhood in Gaza. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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.

Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei performing irimi or the principle of "entering".

Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei performing Irimi or the principle of “entering”.

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.

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Aikido.

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: aikidonosekai@gmail.com.

corky quakenbush aikidoCorky 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?“)

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Do-Chu-Sei: Quietude in Turmoil

Calligraphy: "Do-Chu-Sei"

“Do-Chu-Sei”

Remaining calm in the middle of chaos.

Do-Chu-Sei as a concept comes from 3 Japanese characters:

  • Do (動), as in movement,
  • Chu (中), as in inside, center, and;
  • Sei (静), as in silence, calm, stillness, or quietude.

This concept is used in Aikido to describe the state of “being calm while in motion” or,  a state of “quietude in the midst of action”.


From Reactivity to Serenity

Some refer to this phenomenon as “zen in motion”. It is a mental poise expressed through the body’s movement. It is the ability to stay calm, still, and centered. This quality cannot be achieved overnight. It is a result of years and years of dedicated and sincere training. Some of us experience a flash of it every now and then, and lucky are the ones who have mastered maintaining a smooth and calm demeanor in the buffeting winds of uncertainty.

Seishiro Endo Shihan, 8th Dan

Seishiro Endo Shihan, 8th Dan Photo Credit: Portrait Life Photography

In Aikido, we seek to change our behavior from reactivity to serenity and internal fortitude. If you watch the older Aikido practitioners, people who have spent all their lives practicing Aikido, I urge you to look at their faces while they are doing their waza. They are looking but not looking.  They do not seem to be focused on any one thing, yet they know exactly what is going on all the time.  Try looking closely at their expressions, calm yet fully aware, they seem timeless and ageless, giving us glimpses of an enlightened peace.

 


 Taninzugake

It is important to keep the mind empty. One venue where we can gauge how we are doing in developing this concept is during taninzugake (multiple attacker practice). In the physical practice of taninzugake, one must not get caught up in the technique. Spontaneity is the name of the game.

Roberto Martucci Sensei. 6th Dan

Roberto Martucci Sensei. 6th Dan

You cannot say, “When he attacks, I will execute a sharp and elegant hijikime osae. Then after him , I can do a kotegaeshi on that one.” Instead,

You just let the technique come to you.

If you get caught up in the technique, you blunt your perception, delay your capacity to adapt, limit flexibility, and eventually, compromise your timing and your efficiency to deal with the attacks.

This thinking what to do and planning to do when you are already face-to-face with an attack might only take a split second, but it could turn out to be the split second difference between life and death. In the words of O’Sensei:

“Always imagine yourself on the battlefield under the fiercest attack; never forget this crucial element of training.”

Instead of thinking, it is better to open your mind and widen perception. Aikido training nurtures an expansion of awareness. By making the assessment and perception of the situation integral to the practitioner, we seek to make our movement instantaneous.

It is good to be reminded however that in all of this, all actions must be sincerely tempered by love, and not doing techniques out of anger, out of fear, out of insecurity and most especially, not because you are left with no choice. There is always a choice.


 An  Impeccable Foundation in the Basics (Kihon)

We cannot be discussing concepts all the time. Especially for beginners, basic movements, basic forms. Beginners should immerse themselves in the study of these; until the time comes that doing them is second nature.  All techniques in Aikido are based on the basics.  To achieve spontaneity and improve, we need to have a solid foundation to build from. The secrets of Aikido are revealed in the basic forms, if we know what to look for. The more a person trains, the less is left to chance.

Ikkyo. Takeya Tatsumi, 4th Dan. Photo Credit: Aikido Heiseikai Ritto Dojo

Ikkyo. Takeya Tatsumi, 4th Dan. Photo Credit: Aikido Heiseikai Ritto Dojo

We should also train in order to practice what we preach. I can write about all kinds of things here while discussing these concepts, but if in my practice I cannot express them physically, all my talk is worthless lip-service.  Especially in Aikido, I strongly believe that being able to do what you say is the most fundamental proof of understanding. Understanding begins with the basics; and without understanding, you can never improve.

When a person has prepared well for something, he has done everything he can. When it matters, he can rest assured of this fact, and will find it easier to remain calm, let go of doubts and fears, trust his training, and act. In the words of Louis Pasteur:

“Fortune favors the prepared mind.”

 Regular training gives you courage to calmly face the unknown. There is no substitute to practice and  regular training, especially with regard to basic forms.


 Inner Stillness

The only constant is change. The reality is, we have very little control of anything and everything that happens to us. It is wiser, then, to break free from trying to control things and instead, focus on how to skillfully adapt to change. The state of Do-Chu-Sei is not a momentary disposition. This quality is supposed to be part of a person’s character, inside and outside the mats. It is a result of having a spirit that is at peace with nature, at peace with movement, and at peace with change.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. -Desiderata, 1927

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. -Desiderata, 1927

On the mats and in real life, possessing the ability to anchor on a stable center within us is key to achieving this internal calm. We should always be connected with our center, our “Inner Stillness”. This ability to remain centered in the middle of the surrounding disarray is the essence of Do-Chu-Sei, of moving meditiation. It is  the day-to-day expression of inner peace.

 

 

(Please also see: “Zanshin“, “Fudoshin“, and “Mushin“)

Featured: “Making Change Permanent” by Quentin Cooke Sensei, 7th Dan

Nikkyo. Quentin Cooke Sensei, 7th Dan

Nikyo. Quentin Cooke Sensei, 7th Dan

Most of us have been on a course at one time or another and learnt some really important things, only to find that by the time we reach the office on Monday morning, what seemed so simple at the time now looks rather more difficult.  By way of example, I went on a First Aid course recently and as a result, now have my certificate updated for the next 3 years, but in honesty, I don’t feel that much better equipped to deal with an emergency than before the training and I’m hoping I do not have to find out for real, whether what I learnt, stuck.

The truth is that unless you use it, you lose it.  

So the only real way to bring about a change in the way you think and act is to practice hard until the new habit is deeply embedded in your psyche and in your body.

One powerful tool for this is aikido, which many people think is just a martial art.  Personally, I prefer to think of it as a philosophy for life that uses martial art technique, to prove that even when physically attacked, it is possible to manage conflict peacefully and positively.  The idea is not to break your attacker, but to blend with them.  You need to use the energy created, to direct what you have to see as a partner, rather than as a opponent, to a better place, whilst maintaining your own safety and integrity.

 

Over the years, I have had many people come to my club, and pretty much without exception, they are amazed at how this can be done and they are genuinely in awe of the way in which it can be achieved so gracefully.  Of course, the truth is that it only looks this way, because I have practised regularly and studied deeply for some 30 years.  This being said, I have had students come and go and many report back, that what I showed them on the mat actually changed their lives and helped them deal with some big problems.  It is this that keeps me motivated.  By way of example the following story comes from one of my students who has studied on and off for a couple of years or so…


“Oh Deer”
by Janet Shiel, 5th Kyu
 Burwell Aikido Club – England

Sensei said to us,

“Eventually, you may find yourselves using Aikido in everyday life,
in everything that you do.”

deer

Well, it was not long before I found out that this was true.

I was driving back from Cambridge in my little Vauxhall Tigra one foggy evening, with my partner, Chris, and two friends, Fred and Lucy. The visibility was very bad, and then suddenly through the dense, but patchy fog, appeared a very large deer. It paused on the grass verge to the right. Nothing fawn-like about this beast, it looked more like a blooming great stag.

RELAX! I thought – taking my foot off the accelerator. Lucy was screaming in the back seat, fearing we were about to crash. Fred in the front covered his face. “FFF********!!!!!!”

NOW BE AWARE OF EVERYTHING AROUND YOU. Hedge to the left, deer to the right, road clear ahead. It was about to cross in front of us. No time to brake!

RELAX AND AVOID THE DANGER. I waited just a millisecond.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING. Then. at the very split second it crossed in front of us, I turned the wheel to the right. We missed the animal by a hair’s breadth and then I steered the car left, back to my side of the road. It was so close that we could see its white hairy belly, and the breath from its nostrils, as it seemed to fill the whole windscreen.

Waiting for the right moment to move meant that we avoided disaster. The deer was now safely on its way as were we, both parties uninjured.

With my sensei’s teachings ringing in my ear, the morals of this story were clear:

Avoid conflict whenever possible.
Whatever life throws at you, try to stay calm!

aikido-horizontal


Quentin Cooke Sensei. 7th Dan, Yuishinkai InternationalThis is just one simple story among many that illustrates how people have taken what they learned on the mat to deal with problems they faced in life off of it and managed to produce wonderful results.

Some of these stories come from immensely experienced practitioners and some from almost complete beginners, which given what I said at the beginning of this article about the need to practice new skills, is miraculous.  I guess the truth is that people found that when they actually practiced what they learnt on the mat in real life, that no matter what their level of experience, the ideas were so powerful that even for the beginner they worked.

For all you business coaches out there, you will find that the principles taught within Aikido are probably very familiar to you and core to your work.  Aikido offers a powerful and potentially new way of embedding that knowledge in your clients.  Just find an Aikido teacher to work with.


This article was submitted exclusively to Aikido no Sekai by Quentin Cooke Sensei. All rights reserved. You can also submit Aikido or Peace related articles to Aikido no Sekai via email: aikidonosekai@gmail.com.

quentinQuentin Cooke Sensei, 7th Dan

In 1984, Quentin Cooke Sensei began to practice Aikido within the Ki Society of Great Britain, which later on became the Ki Federation of Great Britain. He stayed until 2000 having attained the rank of 4th dan. A need to create a less traditional group structure led Quentin Cooke Sensei and his brother to found Aikido for Daily Life (ADL) in 2004. He also affiliated his dojo to Yuishinkai International under the guidance and teaching of Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei, one of the founder’s original students. He encourages people to celebrate what we share rather than seek to emphasize our differences: “There are many ways up the mountain”. In 2011,Maruyama Sensei awarded Quentin Cooke Sensei the rank of 7th dan.

"A Way to Reconcile the World". Click on the image for more details about the book.

“A Way to Reconcile the World”. Click on the image for details on how to get a copy.

Apart from running his club, which is a qualifying member dojo of Peace Dojos International and chairing Aikido for Daily Life, he is also the Director Aiki Extensions,currently acting as Chair for the organizing committee of the International Aiki Peace Week.

The article above is just one over 80 stories from around the world, taken from the recently published book that Quentin Cooke Sensei edited titled; “A Way to Reconcile the World – Aikido Stories from Everyday Life“.

 


 

 

(Please also see:”8 Tips to Making Peace a Habit“)

 

Should Aikido be Effective?

Aikido, Kokyu Dosa.

Aikido, Kokyu Dosa.

There have been many questions about the effectiveness of Aikido as a martial art. Human as we are, we find it difficult to reconcile the idea of something so oxymoronic like the stand of Aikido as a martial art that is “non-violent”. I believe that the question of effectiveness can only be answered when we have understood the mechanics and effects of violence and conflict, and in our proficiency to handle them. As with any martial art, when all is said and done, the most basic measure of martial effectiveness depends on the outcome.


TRAINING IN THE DOJO

OSensei3Each Aikidoka has his or her own reasons for doing Aikido. Some would join an Aikido dojo to learn self-defense, while others as a form of exercise to improve their health, and so on. If you ask a thousand Aikidokas about their reasons for training, you will get a thousand different set of answers.

Still, it is important for us to reflect on our reasons for practicing Aikido- what we emphasize in training, what we think of training, and what we would like to get out of training; all these affect our growth in Aikido. Having said this, let us start by asking ourselves the following questions. These are specific to our experiences and goals in practicing the different techniques in the dojo:

Do we seek to learn how to masterfully inflict pain during training?
Do we aspire to make our throws more “powerful”?
Do we train to better dominate our ukes?
Do we think of the best possible angles to dislocate joints?
Have we ever caused injury to someone?

Now as a follow-up, in these instances when we caused pain or injury; or in cases when we banged our ukes’ bodies mercilessly onto the mats:

How did your ukes feel? Were they happy? Were they impressed?
Or were they scared? Vengeful?
Did they like what happened?
How did they respond when you traded places and you took ukemi for them?

I don’t think anyone wants to be slammed to the floor, or have their joints twisted and painfully hyper-extended. Unless you are a masochist, pain is always uncomfortable and undesirable. If our goal in training is to learn techniques that causes harm, or learning how to dominate and injure; I think now may be a good time for us to reflect on what we’ve been doing, and their effects.

Will training to do techniques this way lead us to reconciliation or will they create more conflict? If the latter, is this really a practice of Aikido? Or something else?

In Aikido, it is our aim to transform the initial separation into a celebration of togetherness.

 Let us remember that our goal is to control the aggression of the attacker without injury; and not to escalate the conflict. Our actions reflect our intent. What is your intention in doing Aikido?

“To injure your opponent is to injure yourself. To control aggression without inflicting injury is Aikido.” -Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei

“To injure your opponent is to injure yourself. To control aggression without inflicting injury is Aikido.” -Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei

If we continue to train in order to or while causing harm, we are defeating the purpose of our art. As I said in another article, without understanding the philosophy, we will not be able to fully express Aikido in our movement.


DOING TECHNIQUES

You see, we have to think of the aftereffects- the consequences of our actions. We have to understand that, unless we want to be murderers and kill any and all attackers; there is always the next attack. And the next attack, this retaliation,  can happen anytime- immediately, days, months, or can even take years. This pattern of  attacking and retaliating starts a vicious cycle of “hate that leads to hate that leads to more hate”. Isn’t it more prudent (if we really want to defend ourselves) to not add fuel to the fire as our response to the threat of an attack? In my own training, I am not compromising the effectiveness of my technique in order to uphold the philosophy. Rather,

 I uphold the philosophy in order to increase the effectiveness of my technique.

Doing martially sound techniques is by all means part of our training method. And it is important to emphasize that the effectiveness of Aikido is not limited to its  collection of techniques, and physical steps. Aikido also has its principles and philosophy that should always be expressed together and within the physical movement.

As a matter of fact, it is counterproductive to act from a standpoint of “doing a technique to someone”.  To “do a technique to someone” actually hails from a mindset of separation. In Aikido, we should practice Musubi. Person A is not actually doing a technique to Person B. Instead, Persons A and B are doing the technique together. This is training in moving as one.

In embracing the principles of Aikido, we should be training our techniques with the intention of love. It is important to realize that in the practice and application of the different techniques in conflict situations (actual or as simulated in paired exercises ), all these movements are in fact, physical opportunities for sharing our peace, our goodwill, and our compassion. In our practice of techniques, let us not fight fire with fire, but fire with water.

For some time now, I have made it a habit in my training to sometimes ask my ukes this question after each technique:

“How did that make you feel?”

The tricky thing about Aikido training is that we cannot actually feel the effect of our techniques ourselves. We need feedback in order for us to know what we have to work on. I am very grateful to my ukes, without whom, I would have never improved; because basing from their response and the principles I know, I can adjust my training goals accordingly.


THE LOVING PROTECTION OF ALL THAT EXISTS

avol3

Avalokiteshvara, Chinese: Guanyin, Japanese: Kannon. The Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion and Mercy.

In a fight under the win-lose dynamic, winning and not losing are two different things, and Aikido is very effective in not losing. Actually, Aikido goes beyond this. In doing Aikido, we act to reconstruct the win-lose dynamic itself by reconciling the separation (brought by conflict) through our movements, and transforming it into togetherness (win-win).

From a win-lose to a win-win situation, both parties end up unharmed and at peace. 

Let us remember that there is no other in Aikido; that there is no enemy. What we have are techniques (when done correctly) capable of transforming the harmful intention from an attacker; ultimately bringing both parties together in peaceful understanding. Quoting  O’Sensei:

“The source of Budo is Divine Love- the spirit of loving protection for all that exists.”
「武道の根源は、神の愛—万有愛護の精神—である」

In any martial situation, Aikido’s goal is to transform conflict and purify it, so that there may be peace. This is the practice of Aikido as Misogi, or purification. It is an art that seeks to purify malice and overcome hate through movements coming from a heart of sincere compassion. This compassionate intent can always be felt in the vibrations of our movement. It is never a vain effort. We aim for purification- a change of heart.

This is a very difficult level of mastery to reach, requiring patience, diligence, initiative, and above all, an unwavering curiosity to learn. As Budo, Aikido is truly as ambitious as it is revolutionary. So now to answer the question, should Aikido be effective?

“Yes. Aikido, should be effective. It should be very effective.”


(Please also see: “Aikido: When The Body Moves the Mind“)

 

The Blind Men and the Elephant

Six blind men of Hindostan cartoonThis is a poem written by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887), as an adaptation of a famous Indian story. It is widely known in Buddhist and Jainist traditions. I thought I will share this as a reminder to everyone that each of us has our own version of universal truths, and each of  us has had a glimpse of these truths based on our individual experiences and walks.

In any given topic, maybe we are just talking about the same thing, from different angles? Instead of arguing “I am right and you are wrong”, maybe we should start learning to respect, reflect on, and appreciate the different views of the elephant as expressed by different people who has touched it. That through our different perspectives, we can see more clearly what the elephant really is, and how big the elephant is. Only then can we truly begin to dig deeper and realize the mysteries that lie beneath the surface.

This can only happen when we first become aware of, accept, and eventually do something about our own individual blindness.

On a more personal note, I think this story has a lot of applications, even (or especially?) in a martial art like Aikido. What do you think?


The Blind Men and the Elephant

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach’d the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a WALL!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -“Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a SPEAR!”

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a SNAKE!”

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he,
“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a TREE!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a FAN!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a ROPE!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong.


(Please also see this article: “Bob“)

“Freedom is the Absolute Prerequisite to Peace” by André Cognard, 8th Dan Hanshi

Screen Shot 2012-12-27 at 12.10.31 PM

Andre Cognard Shihan, 8th Dan Hanshi; Tenchinage.

(See this article in original French)

An individual’s freedom is the absolute prerequisite to peace .

Everyone’s duty is to be free. Freedom is the prerequisite to identity and to it’s uniqueness. By acting freely, a subject participates in the expansion of the universe by it’s complexification. Identity is the universe’s utmost division and an individual’s task is to make it live. But individual’s freedom is hindered by invisible bonds of loyalty. These obligations arise from our need to belong to diverse entities, comprised in undifferentiated group consciousnesses.

This is the price of incarnate life.

To receive a body, you adopt two family histories and through them, the history of ancestral consciousness and its cultural and clanic subdivisions, as well as the history of human consciousness as a whole. Upon incarnation each individual is burdened with this collective history.

It is the conflict between our duty to be free and our obligations of loyalty towards the groups, that creates an internal conflict, a true identity schism. To be objectified, the conflict is projected between the subject and others. Objectified in the relationship, it can be changed. The evolution and harmonization of the internal conflict will occur if the re-enactment of the relational experience leads to peace. Change is therefore made ​​possible through our actions. This is the meaning of the way and of practice: our karma consists of our actions.

To understand our need to be free and our need for relationships, we must understand that conscience is only what it contains and all it contains. Internal conflict is a pillar of conscience itself. It is structural. This implies that change cannot occur in conscience itself. The conscience can only change by integrating novelty and novelty comes from otherness. One changes only in the other.

andre_cognardThis means that peace is only possible when the subject has freed himself from his obligations of loyalty to ancestral consciousnesses to whom he owes language, culture, and myth. And also to the collective human consciousness to whom he owes symbols and, through them, the ability to integrate novelty and therefore change.

There is a only one way to free oneself and that is to accomplish our spiritual duty which is always composed of two antagonistic elements:

  •  Liberating the human group out of the self, by embracing our own freedom and respecting that of others.
  •  Liberating the expanding universe within the self by removing all obstacles to our own freedom.

The two are inseparable because they both determine universal harmony which in turn determines peace. Peace is the sign of spiritual accomplishment. Aikido must lean towards this concept that I have named “effective harmony.”


This article was submitted exclusively to Aikido no Sekai by Andre Cognard Shihan. All rights reserved. You can also submit Aikido or Peace related articles to Aikido no Sekai via email: aikidonosekai@gmail.com.

Andre Cognard HanshiAndré Cognard Saiko Shihan, 8th Dan Hanshi

In 1973, He met Hirokazu Kobayashi Shihan in Paris and since then, devoted his life to Aikido. In 1982 he founded the Academie Autonomous Aikido (now Autonomous Academie d’Aikido Kobayashi Hirokazu), now represented in France by more than 100 dojos.

In February 1998, upon the recommendation of  Hirokazu Kobayashi Shihan, along with five of his students, he founded the Kokusai Aikido Kenshukai Kobayashi Ryu Ha. Hirokazu Kobayashi Soshu awarded Andre Cognard the degree of hachidan (8th dan), along with the title of Saiko Shihan of Aikido Kokusai Kenshukai (or the first of Shihan). Currently, he holds the title of Hanshi conferred by Dai Nippon Butokukai. Published in French, he is author to many books about Aikido and the martial arts.

 

(Please also see: “8 Tips to Making Peace a Habit“)