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

“A peaceful person does not talk about “problems” or being a victim, because he does not see problems, only opportunities to harmonize.”

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

The attacker is always right. At least he 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 can not 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. Joe Peterson says:

    I don’t hear much of Kendo philosophy’s influence upon Aikido as I do here. Osensei did have a command of the sword that means sword philosophy as well. The aphorisms of the sword are woven into Aikido just as bokken work is a part of aikido. The frame work many veteran Samurai expressed in the writings the power of avoiding conflict than engaging in it is a reflection in Osensei’s philosophy.

    Ishida Kazuto

    Live when you are alive, and die when when you should die. This is indeed “life and death as one” (死生一如 from Confucius). “Live when you are alive” means to use up all your energy living life to the fullest, and “die when you should die” means that you should proceed to the end in calmness.
    The ability to show strong resolution and to make correct judgements during your entire life – it is my conviction that it is this, at the end of the day, where the true meaning of Japanese Budo lies.
    The essential point is the removal of the attachments that routinely spring forth from within us, with the mind/heart neither stopping nor stagnating; in other words, by the cultivation of mushin (free from obstructive thoughts) and muga (selflessness, removal of the ego), and by being free of possessions (permeable or otherwise), you can arrive at a situation where your heart and mind are like a clear mirror.

    -Ishida Kazuto
    Ex-chief justice of Japan
    2nd president of the ZNKR
    5th headmaster of Itto-shoden muto-ryu
    the 18th headmaster of Takeda-ha hozoin-ryu sojutsu
    Menkyo-kaiden in Ono-ha itto-ryu from Sasamori Junzo

  2. Ace Atkinson says:

    I share with my friends and students that there is no right or wrong, there is only the truth of the moment. To analyze and judge is to focus on the past. To experience the essence of what is without judgement and analysis at this particular moment in time is to experience the unfolding of the future. If I get hit and go into a state of recrimination in the next moment in time I may be killed. The truth is I have been hit and I get on with my life. If some one tries to hit me and I move in such a way as to avoid the strike and I say to myself, “Oh, that was a good move,” I may get killed in the next moment in time because I am focusing on the past. The truth is I avoided the strike and in this moment in time I am participating in and experiencing the unfolding of the future.

    Perceiving is experiencing the essence of what is at this particular moment in time without judgement or analysis, that is there is no right or wrong, good or bad, tall, short, beautiful, ugly, green, brown, red, white, etc. There is only what is at that particular moment in time.

    Many years ago while walking along the embankment next to the ocean at Moro Bay, I kept looking for the beautiful little wild flowers that were growing there. I rejected the dead leaves and weeds, I only wanted to see the beauty of the plants that were flowering. In a moment of epiphany I stopped and looked at the dead leaves and weeds and said to myself without them to nourish the soil there would be no flowers. This led me to want to experience the essence of what is at this particular time in my daily life. I am still training to perceive and accept what is at each moment in time. As I learned from Frank Doran, “Train, train, train.” It can mean the difference between living or dying.

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