Memorable quotes: Yukiyoshi Takamura on pacifism

Here is a particularly interesting quote on pacifism from an interview with Yukiyoshi Takamura Sensei appearing in Aikido Journal several years ago:

“Some aikido teachers talk a lot about non-violence, but fail to understand this truth. A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence. He chooses peace. He must be able to make a choice. He must have the genuine ability to destroy his enemy and then choose not to. I have heard this excuse made. “I choose to be a pacifist before learning techniques so I do not need to learn the power of destruction.” This shows no comprehension of the mind of the true warrior. This is just a rationalization to cover the fear of injury or hard training. The true warrior who chooses to be a pacifist is willing to stand and die for his principles. People claiming to be pacifists who rationalize to avoid hard training or injury will flee instead of standing and dying for principle. They are just cowards. Only a warrior who has tempered his spirit in conflict and who has confronted himself and his greatest fears can in my opinion make the choice to be a true pacifist.”

Click here to read full interview


  1. A letter to Yamada Sensei…

  2. It is the soldier or the warrior who very often “hates war” the most. When you see people butchered, torn, raped, burned, and dying in front of you from an enemy whose hatred for them stems from religious fanaticism, political zealots, and would be terrorists, it is often the true warrior who must confront that hatred and respond to the horrors of warfare. Pacifism without strength is an empty reality.

    Aikido and in my opinion what it stands for are very similar to the tenets of being a professional soldier. Honor and strength that are formed through discipline and molded by a sense of duty to others are still values to be held on to. The Aikido tenets of misogi and purification have at least in my own experience been invaluable tools in dealing with many personal experiences in combat and warfare during the last three decades.


    Dane S. Harden
    Lt. Colonel
    Senior Flight Surgeon
    US Army

  3. I do not believe that “pacifism” is an absolute concept, or a meaningful goal to strive for. It is impossible to achieve true pacifism in a world, nay, in a universe that is in constant flux and change, and where evidence of violence is the norm. Changes themselves more often than not, can only occur violently. Simply look around.

    As previously and wonderfully stated, “pacifism” is a choice, and one that can only be made when circumstances are right.

    Violent behavior will always be the first choice to effect meaningful change. It is that rare instance where sentient beings like ourselves can conceive of non violent alternatives
    that we may choose to do so. Appropriate praise and respect is due to those, like O Sensei, who consciously and conscientiously attempted to make that choice every day.

    In Oneness


  1. […] Said jujutsu master Yukiyoshi Takamura: […]

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