“There Is No Such Thing As A Wrong Attack,” by Nev Sagiba

The customer is always right. If you want his money that is.

The attacker is always right. At least she will believe so.

The salient feature of Aikido is that it does not evaluate, but harmonizes everything that is thrown at it. Well, real Aikido, I don’t know about pseudo-budo.

When you evaluate the “rightness” or the “wrongness” of an attack, you become entangled in the attacker’s unwell, or inventive attacking mindset of conflict, instead of simply dealing with the actuality at hand. Ideas and opinions don’t win fights. Good responses do. Conflict is merely a reflection of the torment the attacker carries in his mind. Adding to it is like adding petrol to fire. Explosive.

A peaceful person does not talk about “problems” or being a victim, because he does not see problems, only opportunities to harmonize. Therefore, such a person cannot feel as if they are a victim. Merely a processor of discord, such as an alchemist transmuting a base into the gold of harmony.

On this basis, regular training is work in progress. In any case, in life, there is no escape from conflict. But you can capitalize on the opportunity conflicts provide. In the ocean, you can complain and be buffeted by wind, wave and weather, or you can use them all to navigate. It’s a choice to survive effectively against what would otherwise be overwhelming forces.

There is no such thing as a “wrong attack.” You can’t blame the attacker. It is you who must take responsibility to correct your response. If you want to stop the barrage that will follow, that is. Those overwhelmed with their own stupidity will be overwhelmed by the attack. Burdened by opinions and preconceptions is no way to prepare for battle. Or to seek awakening. Or survival.

You must empty your cup first. Notice what’s really there.

An attack is neither “right” nor “wrong” nor a “good” or “proper” attack, or a “bad” one. An attack is just an attack. Nothing more. The result of a glitch in someone’s consciousness which then causes intent to misfire. Sometimes through no fault of their own. It can take any form it wants. And there is nothing you can do about it.

Other than to adjust accordingly. Aiki it.

Deal with the attack and leave the attacker to deal with their own errors of thought.

When dealing with the attack, whilst instant evaluation is essential, complex judgment is irrelevant. Indeed there will be no time.

The attack and the response as one.

Hence mushin as an essential. And kime. Then immediate aiki. No time and space, faster than thought.

Nev Sagiba


  1. bruce baker says:

    Yep, the attacker is never wrong.

    Sometimes, I wonder as I am attacking … is there some other way for me to get the upper hand?

    Just because you are instructed to attack a certain way for practice does not mean you should not be thinking about a variation that will somehow give you the upper hand.

    Just as the defender is supposed to train their mind and body to align so there is no break in thought and motion as the combination of the two seem to come together with no time or space between the two until motion is far ahead and the thoughts are automatically adjusted to the situation, so too the attacker should be programming their mind and body to adapt when a defense is formed against their attack.

    The thoughts and actions become so seamless, so quick, even your mind has a hard time remembering the things you do, because you are now entering the zone where there is no time, no space, things come together and move faster than thought itself.

    Yep, that attacker wasn’t wrong, you just got confused … that’s all. (pretty funny if ya think about it?)

  2. …ahhh: the difference between training form, freestyle and combat. When working forms there are certainly variants of an attack which make the commanded technique difficult, even impossible. In freestyle nage is free to change technique. In combat these clever variants are frequently invitations to simple alternatives, like a fist to the face or a knee to the groin.

    And we spend half our aikido training time on attacks. It’s a challenge to make them as effective as our responses. At various times my mantra have been: ‘strikes are basic. they include kicks’; ‘never give up a hand by grabbing unless it gives you a controlling advantage’…

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