“Wrestling With Devils And Angels,” by Nev Sagiba

The whole of Budo is for dealing with adversity. From the very first beginning, adversity was present.

The exercise of arguing against a cause or position, not as a committed opponent, but to determine the validity of the cause or position, is an ancient practice. In the end, if valid, it strengthens the position. If not, it starts the search for other approaches that may work better.

From the late Middle Ages, this practice became known as Devil’s Advocate. From the Latin Advocatus Diaboli. The supporter was called Advocatus Dei – ‘God’s Advocate’. Interestingly The Devil’s Advocate’s formal title was Promoter of the Faith (Promotor Fidei).

Before some fearfully superstitious bogan retard decided to anthropomorphize the concept and invent a bogeyman with horns and a tail, any adversary was referred to in late Latin and Greek as derived from the Hebrew and Arabic as śāṭān, or shaitan, literally ‘adversary.’

As it has evolved, much of Law and governance utilizes an adversarial system. The word synod comes from the Greek prefix “Syn” from Gk. synodos “assembly, meeting, conjunction of planets,” etc. It means “together” and Greek noun “hodos” which means “road or journey.”

I don’t think it’s a fine point, but rather clear in that that it alludes to a journeying together, in the overcoming of adversity, by meeting adversity and coming to terms with understandings and skills required to traverse the adversity of the day and thereby become enabled to navigate future similar challenges.

Similarly, “Do,” “Tao” or “Way,” in the East.

Interestingly, a Senate (Latin pronunciation etymologically derived from “synod,”) comes together most often with opposing views and then “nuts them out” until they arrive at either a good “all win” conclusion, or a poverty stricken compromise where “all lose,” but this equally. in the inequality of things.

Some people marry a “minister for the opposition,” but such sterile and burdensome vexatiousness is in the realm of psychiatry and not often productive in any way.

Useful adversarialism is purposeful in strengthening creativity.

Animals play fight very productively in their infancy and the skills thus attained later enables the hunt, as well as the fight for territory when fully grown.

Adversity is part of the “spice of life.” Too much and it breaks us. Too little and we rot in comfortable illusions. Gratuitous and it wastes time. Not enough and we decay from lack of use.

The more we learn to respond well to adversity, the more skilful we become at navigating life itself.

Blind struggle is neither Aikido, nor useful.

In the course of daily life, a reasonable person would not generally attack someone. Not even playfully. But for the cause of self-improvement, in the respectful and made safe context of the dojo, or in ancient times among warrior clan brothers, we are constantly attacking and re-attacking in order to improve our skill.

The biblical Jacob is said to have “wrestled with an angel” who gave him a really hard time but which led to an awaking of some kind. (With a reference to a pressure point, I can’t for the life of me work out. Unless it was a Boston Crab variable that affected his hip socket.)

If the price of awakening, is wrestling with adversity, or anyone or anything, it is good.

Regular Budo training enables us to find the dark, unconscious or less conscious parts of ourselves and psyche, in order to unlock the bright parts, Hikari, the firing of neurones which not only awaken further skill and insights, but also rejuvenate the health, mind and body of the one practicing to respond to an assault of energy, in the best possible way.

However, if we don’t learn to transcend adversity, and instead fail to rise above it and continue to add to it, we have learnt nothing and a whole life has come into being and will expire, wasted.

Unless the way to overcome it is thoroughly researched.

Adversity is a natural steppingstone in the process of awakening, but not ultimately either useful or inexpensive as a sole means to an end. All of life contains challenges of some kind. Meeting them with skill is a better strategy than avoidance and being chased by them.

Ai helps, and hence the “Kami no Hikari” referred to by the Founder of Modern Aikido..

Morihei Ueshiba quote:
A favourite saying of the Founder of Aikido was:
“Kami no hikari ni hiraku kono michi..” which translated means:
“ The Divine light within, opens up and make clear the Way.”

Nev Sagiba


  1. The Devil’s Advocate…I like it…I will try.

  2. Uke or Uchidachi = Devil’s Advocate by providing a useful attack for Nage/Tori to work with.
    We do it every day in training.

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