Monday 4 February 2013

Aikido Philosophy.....What is Martial?

Aikido is a MARTIAL art. I have seen many 'debates' on this and witnessed many a discussion and have been quite surprised by peoples views. Even on Aikiweb I see arguments as to what it means in regards to Aikido and it's the word Martial which seems to cause so much confusion.

On one side you have those who say they do Aikido as a journey and even to the point of saying they don't do it for Martial reasons and on the other side you have those who insist they are more traditional and explain how martial means in it's origins and thus it should be practiced as if 'fighting'. As usual the winning concepts in most of the arguments are those which favor ego and thus everyone can be comfortable thinking about 'opponents' and what they are preparing themselves for. Oh dear.....

Well, a martial art does not mean preparing to fight or go to war or anything military at all. Military folk may learn different ways of fighting and strategy and tactics and so called competitive martial arts may learn great disciplines and skills but neither is in truth anything to do with martial arts.

So MARTIAL, what does it mean? Well you can trace most martial arts back to their origins and you will find two things. One is merely systems of fighting but all the 'superior' ways were not for fighting at all but rather spiritual disciplines done by religious monks or even nuns. So in truth martial arts originates from religious practice. Only ego takes it into the other realms and only the ego of the other realms want to try to learn it to use for fighting and war and power and domination.

So once again I ask you what does Martial mean in the context of true Martial Art having said already it has nothing to do with fighting or competition? What makes it Martial? For therein lies the understanding needed before you can even get a basic idea of what a martial art is. One thing that sets it apart from many other things is that it is a long term discipline, emphasis on all three words there. Thus those both inside and outside of such who do understand see it is a way of life. So we are getting nearer but not there yet. What is the one factor which makes this discipline martial?

Well there is one factor that outweighs all others in this discipline which makes it Martial and as such was practiced by the more spiritual monks be they from Shaolin or Sohei or whatever and that is the discipline of facing death daily.

This is why the Samurai excelled as warriors because they also had facing death as an ingrained 'honourable' thing as do all warriors. But even most Samurai were confused by any peaceful monks having the same view. In fact when taking to arms the Sohei Monks were far more skillful than most samurai and unfortunately even they succumbed to ego. But back to the point...the discipline of facing death.

Just contemplate that statement for long enough and you will begin to see what a martial art is and how extremely disciplined it is and indeed how spiritual it has to be. You will also begin to see how zen like it is for in facing death only then can you truly apprecate life itself. Thus it also shows you, hold your breath now, how appreciating life takes discipline. True Budo is love.

Just think, death includes loss. Loss of all loved ones, loss of everything you hold dear. Yet most go to pieces over the loss of a purse or wallet. Facing the unknown. Yet ego always wants to know and hates not knowing and thinks knowledge is power. Death is also escape for some but once again that is ego running away, fear. the opposite of facing. The great zen riddle of freedom.

Now what better way of practicing facing death for monks than an action where you have to remain disciplined and calm and at the same time face threatened harm and potential death. Thus you can begin to see how the martial arts were born. How true martial arts can only lead towards enlightenment. The way.How it is the facing of rather than the using of weapons which is the true skill. Turning then the killing sword into the healing sword and the spear into the holy staff. There is plenty to learn and lots to face on the path of budo is love.

A warrior meditates and practices facing death and that is his goal. A true martial artist meditates and practices facing death as a discipline but not a goal for his goal is enlghtenment and his purpose is harmony and life.