“Aikido – Responding Harmoniously to Aggression,” Nev Sagiba

Responding harmoniously to aggression, whilst not impossible, requires the developing of a new paradigm of consciousness. Whilst this paradigm is already extant in the nature of the universe itself, it is not a common understanding in primitive minds.

Let me explain.

On the planet we find ourselves, evolution, call it slow creation if you want to, (there is no real argument between the two and a plenum of proofs,) began as a long struggle for existence.

This very struggle gave rise to consciousness because of pain, fear and the will to live.

As life forms evolve they tend to reflect the nature of the universe and its processes. Can this be so unusual?

No, not really. In the face of the fact that water tends to reflect what is there, so also does the microcosm, reflect the great vast macrocosm. When you consider that in the face of a creation which appears infinite, our galaxy is a but a spec of dust, this becomes obvious.

Now expand that spec to the size of a football field and select one grain of sand from inside that field. That is our Sun. Now expand that grain of sand to the size of that football field again and our Earth is about the size of a golf ball in that field. Expand the golf ball to the size of a football field yet again, then pluck a flea from the dog (equivalent to a small island on the Earth) walking across the field, then expand that flea to the size of ten football fields. (A good exercise is to zoom down using Google Earth – a free software available at:

Now let’s see if you are fit enough to jog across the conjoined diameters of those ten football fields lined up, a distance of about a mile (or just over one and a half kilometers.)

Then measure your ego up against your success in doing so. Or your black belt.

Now we have some perspective. More so when you measure the length of a lifespan of even the most evil dictator. All the old ones are dead and the petty ones of now don’t have long to go.

How we fill a lifespan is really up to us as individuals. Those frightened of life and unwilling to face up to their exceedingly insignificant smallness in the face of Creation will generally become bullies.

They don’t mean to be bad, they can’t help themselves. As the Zulu song about apartheid overlords goes, “They are frightened, they are weak, they are cowards.”

But what makes a coward? What makes a coward into a bully if he can get away with it?

An area of the brain called the “Pons.” The Pons carries and delivers the primitive survival messages of millions of years ago, and was doing so long before the midbrain and frontal cortex had developed.

When the Pons fails in its duties or when the higher brain functions are not developed through lack of use, survival, or perceived survival falls back on the Reptilian system or R-complex.

“The ‘reptilian system’ is the oldest layer… the most ‘primitive’ of the three brain components and makes up the entire brain mass in reptiles. The reptilian system, also known as the primitive (reptilian) brain, or ‘basal brian’… ‘archipallium’, ‘root brain’ or ‘R-complex’. The R-complex consists largely of the structures… brain stem medulla, pons, cerebellum, mesencephalon, the oldest basal nuclei – the globus pallidus and the olfactory bulbs…the ‘basal ganglia’, the ‘reticular activating system’ and the ‘midbrain’. Functions of the R-complex are related to physical survival and body maintenance – digestion, reproduction, circulation, breathing, stress responses, territorial instincts, social dominance…. Functions related to the instinctive behaviour patterns of self-preservation include ‘primitive’ behaviours… responsible for automatic behaviours associated with territoriality, ritualism, social dominance, status maintenance, deception, tendency to follow precedent, awe for authority, social pecking order behaviour, compulsiveness, deception, prejudice and resistance to change… rigid, obsessive, compulsive, and paranoid. The functioning of the R-complex is activated when the organism perceives threat and the needs for survival and safety predominate. This part of the brain is active, even in deep sleep.”

In Latin, the word pons literally means bridge. The pons is a portion of the hindbrain that connects the cerebral cortex with the medulla oblongata. It also serves as a communications and coordination center between the two hemispheres of the brain. As a part of the brainstem, the pons helps in the transferring of messages between various parts of the brain and the spinal cord.

“As a product of human evolution through natural selection, the brain can best be understood as an organ of learning, adapted for the survival of the species”. (Gerald Fischbach, “Mind and Brain,” Scientific American, 267: 3, Sept 1992, 48.)
“The characteristic functions of the human brain are the natural outcome of millions of years of evolutionary process through natural selection. The brain is three-layered or ‘triune’. The three major layers or ‘brains’ were established successively in human evolution… first the reptilian brain or ‘R-complex’, the second the mammmalian brain or ‘limbic system’, and the third the neo-mammalian brain or ‘neocortex’. Each has a separate function and depending on the circumstances each can become dominant but all three layers interact in the processing of information, i.e. cognition or learning. The triune brain paradigm has forced a rethink of brain functioning or ‘brain/mind’.”

This is why a higher response to a lower expression is not always easy. The lower expression has been around longer and is well established. Or has it?

This should explain the world around you. Why bullies exist. Why politicians tend to become corrupt. Why banks who you could once trust your money with, have become self-serving predators. And why the school bully is such a jackass who eventually finds his comeuppance, then sooner if not later shrivels into insignificance.

But wait, is that all? Surely there must be more!

Yes. There’s more.

Why is it that Aikido, real Aikido, not the faked variety, is not only possible, but enables. Why is it when Aikido’s creatively harmonising principles are deployed in social interactions it can and does successfully add value to society? Why is it that, “Aikido has the ability to lead all things to completion..” according to its founder Morihei Ueshiba and according to those who have in fact done so?

Because the Great Universe and its reconciling Creative force was there for a long, long time before a reptilian brain was ever thought of, let alone had the time to evolve this basic engine for the crude survival of a primitive species. The Great Harmony of the Universe, to a small, primitive and blinkered mind, looks like chaos, because it fails to understand.

But in the face of that immense, vast concordance of energies and potentials, the flea on the dog, in a football field on a spec of dust… on the outer arm of a spec of insignificance in immensely vast cosmic soup… pales into considerable insignificance don’t you think?

That immense power is yours. Not to predate with, or cheat, or cause harm or bully and dominate or any of the foolish actions of one imprisoned by their own reptilian vestige, none of these. These ultimately fail.

That unlimitable creative power is available to SERVE, CARE, NURTURE AND PROTECT LIFE! IT IS LOVE. THE AI IN THE KI!

The ultimate source of harmony is the universe itself. We can choose to channel this immensity as Hito Jinja, receiving and transmitting instruments of universal harmony by refining ourselves though the shugyo and misogi of regular practice as our Way or mediation.. Or we can remain self seeking lumps of meat chasing after the next feed, living in fear of ideas propagated by idiots with opinions and agendas.

That Morihei said, “When attacked I leave all things in the hands of the universe..” starts to make some measure of sense.

Try this exercise. You may not go in for misogi as he did. Nor in honouring the directions. Nor long meditation sessions each morning.

You may not even want to train daily.

But try this. Get into your car. Drive to a place of nature, preferably a high place and preferably on a day when the sky is clear.

Wait for night.

Then simply look up.

If you don’t have a car and won’t make the time then go here:

Here’s More (video links, best enjoyed in full screen) – I believe that I considerably understated the size, time and space comparison when writing the above piece.

View Earth side of the Sun and Largest Stars of the Milky Way

The biggest star known to man

How Big Is The Galaxy?

Compare our galaxy to IC 1011

A Look at the Milky Way Galaxy’s Birth

Our Milky Way in 3D

Flight over the surface of the Sun, 2003

Hubble Dazzling New Images in HD

Hubble’s Hottest in HD, volume 1

Hubble’s Hottest in HD, volume 2

Hubble’s Hottest in HD, volume 3

Hubble’s Hottest in HD, volume 4

Hubble Dazzling New Images in HD

Cold Sparks & Black Holes: Cosmic Energy

Search for Earth-Like Planets

How Big Is The Galaxy?

HISTORY’s The Universe: Beer in Space

10 Remarkable Galaxy Systems in Space

What is the Milky Way?

Herschel space telescope: new pictures

The Hole in the Andromeda Galaxy (and more)

And just on Earth: Nature’s Fury: 30 Photos of Natural Hazards

Fun Stuff – Easier To comprehend, Perhaps

The Galaxy Song (Monty Python) Modern Remixes

The Galaxy Song (Monty Python) 1

The Galaxy Song (Monty Python) 2

The Galaxy Song (Monty Python) 3

The Galaxy Song (Monty Python) 4

The Galaxy Song (Monty Python) 5

The original from Monty Python’s, “The Meaning of Life.”

Aikido Journal Members Site
For nearly 40 years, we have been researching and documenting every aspect of Aikido!
We hate spam just as much as you


  1. aspen says:

    Love in Action is Service to Life

  2. Bruce Baker says:

    Everything on earth is a shadow of the creation out there …. in the universe around us.

    Sure, it is based upon dominant elements that direct the life to become certain forms and certain dominant chemicals to interact within forms and we observe them around us everyday, but you must look up at the sky sooner or later and realize .. how small our spaceship earth really is in the whole of creation, right?

    The universe has a purpose for you … and will allow you to vary from the purpose very little, which is when you find you have opted to change the course of events around or in your life with decisions. I find … and this is me. when I think everything is aligned and fine … that is when something bad is about to happen. So, as long as I am feeling cautious and somewhat agitated … I seem to be more ready for any problems as well as the problems seem to be much much smaller.

    I don’t know what you “spider sense”, using the analogy of Spider Man from the comic books, might be but I do believe people can learn to sense different types of alertness from their experiences. The world really does send out signals of danger, and if one of those danger signals is feeling complete calm, as if all signals of danger have been turned off, you need to PAY ATTENTION to whatever triggers your spider sense of danger.

    Training helps, observation helps, making mental notes about how your subconscious thinking was sending danger or non-danger signals to your thinking mind might be worth exploring. Your experiences will teach you what works and what doesn’t work. It’s a matter of what frequencies your particular body and mind are attuned to .. and you will have to adjust based upon what works for you.

    When you begin to find what works … THEN you begin to understand what O’Sensei was talking about in becoming ATTUNED TO THE UNIVERSE AROUND YOU…. or so my experiences have taught me and continue to teach me …

    Hey, there is no completion of these lessons… your body will change as the decades pass, your mind will adapt and change as experiences come, and the LEARNING never stops until the big dirt nap.

    Hopefully … we teach enough people around us to find their harmony, and we leave the generations to come with enough clues how to deal with the disharmony that balances our the harmony we seek. INDEED .. one must understand .. for every positive there is a negative until balance is achieved … so do not seek to destroy all negatives they merely need to be balanced with their opposite number that creates harmony we can live with, they are part of the harmony of the universe around us that becomes creation. Learn to find the harmony that restores balance when there is imbalance…. and then .. you truly are seeing the true universe for what it is, and what it can be.

    Then you find the words and lessons of O”Sensei .. actually make sense …

  3. carina says:

    Thank you Nev for reminding us of our true place in universe. As O’Sensei is quoted in “Memoir of the Master”: When an enemy tries to fight with me, the universe itself, he has to break the harmony of the universe. Hence at the moment he has the mind to fight with me, he is already defeated. There exists no measure of time — fast or slow.
    This pride about black belt, the ego it involves, do we need that? Are we better than others because of that? We are just a grain of sand like everybody else, perhaps not as good as somebody who does not wear such a black belt, but feels compassion for others. Taking care of our surroundings, of people who need us, facing agressive or depressive people with love, try to put ourselves in their place, thinking why they are behaving like they do and we will do a little bit for a better world.

  4. Thank you very much for putting “us” into perspective! But it needs a strong character to withstand those bullies, dictators, torturers, liars, thefts, etc by looking at their short life span in comparison to that of our universe. When bound, helpless, alone, and/or on mercy of an evil creature this might be too much for most of us and we will break down, cry, complain, and/or beg to end the pain. But nevertheless I do agree that maybe this is the only meaningful perspective to look at.

    Where I disagree to some extent is with the cited work on the three-layered brain. The general architecture of the human brain is already present in a “simple” animal like a lizard. There are, of course, significant differences like size and weight and the relative share of the neocortex with regard to other brain structures. But already the neocortex is present in a lizard.

    This brain model of three-layers or any other model using compartments or modules do not reflect the network character of brains and the working of evolutionary principles. You can take any two of so-called modules in any kind of these theories and you will find that the linkages of these two are as strong or dense as inside such a “module”. And there is no clear “interface” between such “modules” which usually means a kind of translation from one “language” to another.

    It is much easier to reuse, reshape, rewire, shrink or enlarge already existing neural sub-networks than to develop a completely new one. Therefore the so-called old layers of a human brain was changed when the neocortex got larger and larger. In these old structures very important relay functionalities are realized. Without them, the whole neocortex isn’t able to make sense of the sensual input or induce the neural signals for meaningful movements.

    It is also the case that all parts of the brain are adaptable to learning processes more or less. And maybe this is to what you can point to: While we do have innate reflexes or behaviours, we can at least re-interpret them in a way which is much more friendly to our fellow humans and all other creatures. The lizard is not doomed to be evil or unsensitive to other living beings because it has “only” the reptilian brain. It has possibly less alternatives as we do have. It may have not the capabilities to analyze these alternatives and to choose on and to put into action.

    So, it may turn out that education (by others, circumstances, and by oneself) influences, changes, adapts the whole brain or the whole human, and not only a small part of it. Taking this perspective the job is much more demanding because you can’t point to some part in the other one (or inside yourself) and blame this for the evil in the world. It is always you as a complete system, which under specific circumstances with a specific history fails to contribute to lessen grief and pain. And at least I fail to do this more often then I wished to in retrospect.

    To close with: The exercise you recommend is wonderful and I share your insights with regard to these entirely.


Speak Your Mind