Recommended reading: “Virtue Of The Sword” by James Williams

The article below has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

I am frequently asked why I practice and teach classical warrior skills and adhere to a philosophy that appears outdated to many. The sword has defined the warrior for thousands of years. It has defined the power, ethics, duty and self-defense of a class of people who have shaped the face of civilization on this planet. The skill, exercise, mental development, and sheer pleasure of using a sword is unique. Hand-to-hand combat with edged weapons is the most demanding form of human physical combat. It not only requires the most skill, both physical and mental, it develops in the adept abilities that separate him from others and elevates intuition, reflexes, and technique to the highest degree. For the warrior, the sword represents his duty, his honor and his responsibility.

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  1. Governments don’t protect people. They exercise power and maintain sufficient order for their own preservation. Sovereignty is the concept. Popular sovereignty is a revolutionary concept and a term rarely heard these days. Ideally, a representative government allows discussion and resolution of differences within a society and a nucleus around which to order the common defense if necessary. There was government before there was any large amount of “law enforcement”. People mostly worked things out, amicably or not, between themselves.

    The sword itself is simply an instrument of power, a weapon. In the hands of a wise person it can help many. In the hands of a selfish or arrogant one, it will do otherwise. Any of the above can attain a degree of technical ability with it. In the American context, substitute gun for sword. Except, to paraphrase the old saw, “God made big men and small women. Colonel Colt made them all equal.” As an erstwhile epee fencer, let me tell you that size counts in swordsmanship.

    I completely concur that the essential virtue is responsible upright conduct.

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