joi, 3 decembrie 2009

Aikido and Conflict Management - Richard Ostrofsky

Aikido and Conflict Management
Richard Ostrofsky

Ottawa Aikido Circle

The name, ai-ki-do, means roughly “the way of unified or harmonized spirit.” Unlike
many other fighting arts, it is not a sport. In fact, one of the basic ideas of aikido is that
competition has no place in combat. What the aikidoist never does is square off with
an opponent for a fair contest to see who is the better man. Aikido works on a
completely different paradigm: In a real fight, there is always one person who is
attacking, and another who is being attacked. The theory of aikido is that the attacker
(by definition) is over-reaching himself – going outside his proper sphere and putting
himself off balance. Therefore, in committing an act of aggression, he is really defeating
himself. The problem is to help him to realize this: to help him see the error of his
position–preferably without hurting him or, at any rate, not hurting him more than
Aikido is sometimes called the pacifist’s martial art, but this is not quite
correct–for two reasons. First, you cannot practice your beautiful aikido techniques
unless someone cooperates by attacking you and letting you throw him around. The
only reason anyone will do that (until you get to be an old instructor like me) is that you
are doing the same for him. Accordingly, in a real aikido class, you will spend as much
time practising attacks as defences against those same attacks. Second, it turns out that
the skills of attack and defence are very nearly the same. The movements of a really
good attacker are fluid, flexible and focussed. Neither the attacker nor the defender
knows what is going to happen next. Both must be alert, relaxed, present to the
situation, ready for anything. Actually, the whole physical fitness side of aikido training
is in the rhythmic drill of attacking, getting thrown, rolling out and up on your feet, and
then attacking again. The better the other guy is, the less he actually does!
Another important thing to understand is that for the aikido practitioner,
physical combat is only the extreme version of a situation that happens all the time. I
have been practising aikido for thirty years, have never really used it in the street, and
never expect to–not even when I go back to New York City (where I grew up) for a
visit. But I use the ideas of aikido constantly when I fight with my wife–or with anyone
else whose ideas and interests happen to differ from my own. Jesus taught that we
should love our enemies. Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, might have added that no one
can do this until he has become very skilful at handling conflicts with his friends. An old
Japanese proverb says that “Amateur tactics cause grave wounds.” A real pro handles
a conflict situation. He can deal with aggression and violence without becoming
aggressive or violent himself.

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