“The name Aikido means “The Way or Harmony and Love,” but teaching Aikido as budo, The Way of The Warrior, involves the difficult task of reconciling Harmony and Love with violence. This “difficulty” reflects a universal paradox best exemplified by the carved wraithlike apparitions that “guard” houses of worship world wide. Why such terrifying specters (some frightful beyond description) surrounding sanctuaries of peace and serenity? They offer a simple message: before entering the tranquility of the inner sanctum, the supplicant must look upon and reconcile to life in ALL its aspects. Heedful of this wisdom, a good teacher realizes that some teaching situations require the student traverse a path of violence before entering into the way of Peace.
This understanding of Love as a process involving violence and death often puzzles students whose sentimental and dualistic thinking leaves them unable to reconcile such incompatible categories. Thus they reject the harsh and violent aspects that attend to the study of Aikido as budo and quit. Most serious students pass beyond sentimental understanding and come to an intuitive but not intellectual understanding of the paradox of violence. I remember a student in Albuquerque that successfully foiled a rapist who grabbed her and attempted to force her into his car. At first she expressed surprise at how calm she remained throughout her ordeal; then she reflected for a second and told me that after all I had put her through she wasn’t about to lose her composure to some hoodlum.”
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