Balance (another Aikido post)

8 01 2010

The other day I was teaching a small class at the dojo. We practiced jiyu waza, essentially a form of sparring. The uke comes at you with whatever attack they want, and you do whatever throw you want. I asked the group not to worry too much about finding a technique, but to concentrate on the basics: keep your own balance, and feel the energetic connection to uke. Not an easy task when someone is attacking you, but more and more I’m convinced those two things are the the key to self defense with Aikido.

That same day, I read this in Thomas Friedman’s column: “We can’t let our country become just The United States of Fighting Terrorism and nothing more. We are the people of July 4th — not Sept. 11th.” The column really spoke to my frustration with what’s happened in America since that terrorist attack. In today’s Oregonian, Joe Conason addressed the issue directly, saying, among other things: “Indeed, right-wing exploitation of terrorism tends to serve the terrorists in several important ways: elevating them from a gang of fanatical criminals to the status of a sovereign power; echoing their worldview of a clash between Islam and modernity; and enhancing their prestige as a mortal threat to civilization.” The anti-hysteria sentiment was also echoed in the letters to the editor, where one writer cited a connection between Michael Chertoff and the manufacturing of full-body scanning machines.

I’m also opposed to full-body scanners. It’s one more in a series of knee-jerk reactions that serve only to impose petty restrictions on our lives. A guy brings a bomb in his shoe, and now we all take off our shoes. That’s letting the enemy dictate our actions. That’s not keeping our balance.

Our single most effective protection against terror is information. All the clues about the underwear bomber’s intentions were out there. We only need to learn how to track the information, how to share it, how to sort it. We don’t need additional, invasive data-mining of every person on the planet. We only need to get our existing law enforcement machinery functioning as its meant to function. We need to act with the judgement of a “confident, politically mature society” (Conason again).

Aikido is my personal solution. Naturally, I feel my personal solution is also the universal solution. I recognize Aikido is not for everyone, but I wish I could say to the DHS and the TSA, keep your balance. Connect with your attacker. Understand the attack, and you’ll be able to meet it without jeopardizing yourself or others.

A side note: our other greatest protection against terror is ourselves. There will never be another plane flown into a building, because the passengers won’t sit back and let it happen. Al Qaeda may have sent our security organizations into a tailspin, but they’ve also put an end forever to the notion of “just go along quietly and we’ll get out of this ok.” If we can act with confidence and clear judgement as individuals and as a society, we’ll have nothing to worry about. Not exactly easy, but simple.

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One response

6 04 2010
steven seagal aikido

Hi,

This is a very useful post, you surely have good knowledge. Thanks very much. I bookmarked your site and will be back for more 😉 . Hope you post more stuff.

Cheers,
Dave

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