Self Defense Training as a Meaningful Practice

a class="addthis_button_google_plusone" g:plusone:size="small">

As human beings, generally we are pleasure seekers and pain avoiders. As such, it should come as no surprise that most of us do not enjoy being physically beaten, abused or even killed. In fact, avoiding these outcomes are the top priorities in our lives. If you look at various codes of ethical conduct, not killing generally ranks first. Not harming someone physically is a lesser form of killing. Not stealing is often chosen second to killing, primarily for its proximity to supporting life. In particular, one should not steal the resources most essential to supporting the life of its owner.

However, to be happy, simply not being beaten up or killed at the moment is a start…but it is not sufficient. On a more subtle level, we must contend with the possibility that violence could erupt at any moment. To be realistic, there is no way we can have certainty of our safety in the next moment. How can we relax and enjoy our lives when we know the good times are not guaranteed?

Then we need to look at an even more subtle level. If we inspect our minds, we can often see a dualism that separates ourselves from others, particularly when we define ourselves as our own physical bodies. As long as there is an “us and a them,” there is a tendency to think of “mine and theirs.” This line of reasoning leads to separation, with an inherent potential for conflict. For example, “I want what they have” and vice versa, or “they had no right to do that to me.” Conflict is what ultimately leads to violence. The seeds for violence exist in our minds through this dualistic perspective on a moment to moment basis. It is this violence we know that can erupt at any moment and destroy the little peace we have managed to find. So we should know that it is the very lens through which we view the world on a daily basis has built within it the same violence we desperately wish to avoid.

Summary
Article Name
Self Defense Training as a Meaningful Practice
Author
  • Jason Costanzo

    Wow… this must really be some next level stuff here, because I am completely confused!

    First, I would like to say that I love blog entries, and wish I had more time to write and respond to them.

    Second, I would completely agree that it is my life’s great aim to ensure that I not be killed, second only to ensuring that my children are not killed…and my wife I suppose.

    Having said that – I have to admit to needing to read this several times before I actually understood it. Man! This thing is like a riddle!

    So, if I can try to boil this down, what you’re saying is that happiness can be achieved through the process and preparation of ensuring our own safety, which can be achieved through the manner in which we choose to view our world and the perspectives on which we adhere. Is that correct?

    Why can’t we just decide to be happy and then be happy? Not only that, but why can’t we just decide that we aren’t going to believe in and US or THEM perspective? Can it just be this easy??

    • smk

      “So, if I can try to boil this down…”

      In order to know the answer to a question, you first have to understand the question thoroughly.

      “Why can’t we just decide to be happy and then be happy? Not only that, but why can’t we just decide that we aren’t going to believe in and US or THEM perspective? Can it just be this easy??”
      Who is making the decision? Are you asking some this entity to believe that it is fundamentally a separate entity that believes it is not separate?

      • Jason Costanzo

        I definitely did not understand the question. And thus could not understand the answer.

        So then, is what you are saying, that in order to be happy we must be mindful of our inherent violent nature? Or, of the possibility of our potential for devisiveness?

        By nature we are not all the same! There is no one that is the same as the other. Yet that needn’t be a source of conflict, although I agree with you that it is. What I am saying is that it is not inherent in the difference that a conflict will occur.

        I think it was you that brought up that Perspective plays an enourmous role, and wouldn’t it have to be our perspectives that we must be mindful of?

        My question is if it’s perspective that drives so much, ie our potential for safety, potential for conflict, potential for happiness – and this presumes that we are in control of our own perspectives – then why can’t we just decide to have a particular view, and allow that to be enough for our contentment?

        You can decide that whatever level of security you currently have, is sufficient – and that is ok. You can decide that whatever the differences between US and THEM, you will accept them – and that is ok. You can decide that despite a wrong being done by another, you can forgive them, and that is ok. You can decide, that despite things occurring that may be percevied as bad, that I will still remain positive and happy.

        Perhaps I’m picking the Utopian view – rather than the realistic, practical one…

        • smk

          “My question is if it’s perspective that drives so much, ie our potential for safety, potential for conflict, potential for happiness – and this presumes that we are in control of our own perspectives – then why can’t we just decide to have a particular view, and allow that to be enough for our contentment?”
          Who is the “we” that just decides to have a particular view? Think of it this way…if a turtle walks across the beach and swings it’s tail back and for to cover its footprints, doesn’t the tail then leave a trail?

          • Gregory

            Who is the “we”

            Indeed, who? How far should the “we” be projected? Do we intend to encompass the whole humanity into one “we”, or “oneness’? To gain a
            deeper understanding of a concept, it is sometimes useful to extrapolate it to its absolute extreme, sort of magnify it with the intellectual microscope and abstract it.

            Most ancient and modern philosophies agree that the world, both organic and inorganic, is driven by the “unity and struggle of the
            opposites”. Electrons and positrons, yin and yang, hell and paradise, good and evil, hot and cold, life and death, etc., etc. Seeking individual harmony, do we really wish that the whole humanity achieved full harmony too? Albeit impossible to implement fully, wouldn’t this be a lofty goal to strive for?

            Now imagine that by some magic this does happen: every person
            on Earth achieves Nirvana! Everyone has shuffled off the mortal coil, is happy, content and one with the Absolute. There is nobody to enlighten, no conflicts to resolve, no evil to correct, no wrongs to set right… That would spell the end of the world, wouldn’t it? Do we really want that to happen? If we in full honesty concede that we do not, then, wouldn’t it mean that individual perfection could be sought only in the world of imperfection?

            A similar contradiction can be found in the life-death pair.
            Throughout millions of years of biological life, and a few millennia of human history, the species and societies developed through the cruel law of survival of the fittest. The world’s strategy was that the week and unfit die. Now, with the fascinating scientific progress and cultural transformations, the current motto is that everybody lives as long as technically and financially possible. Imagine that all countries have acquired economic ability to implement this noble mission and maintain every life for the maximum span of time. Arguably, the planet can maintain up to 40-60 billion human beings. In any case, this figure is finite, and humanity will reach the ultimate saturation point quite soon, likely in the 21st century. The more humane we are, the faster we reach the crisis. An unpleasant contradiction, isn’t it?

            These contradictions, among others, drive our thinking and acting (sometimes), thus confirming the inherent positive nature of dualism. Which make living in this world so much fun.

          • smk

            “That would spell the end of the world, wouldn’t it? Do we really want that to happen?”

            Who is this “we”?

          • Gregory

            Exactly. It’s always “I”, juxtaposed over a bigger or smaller group of alleged think-alike as “we”.

          • Jason Costanzo

            I’m so confused.

          • smk

            Who is confused 😉

  • Gregory

    Good topic.

    I would like to comment on the roots of violence in individuals and communities.

    Roots of violence include, but definitely are not limited to human greed or dishonesty or even ambition.Originally, violence had been an important, often even crucial, preemptive tool for survival. You see an impending danger in a beast, or another tribe, or another country – you take them out. “Do it to them before they do it to you.” This self-preservation strategy actually started changing only in the 20th century, when a more peaceful world order started to shape up.

    Aikido principles are an excellent answer to individual insecurity and violent responses provoked by this trait that is deeply engraved into human mentality throughout millennia of survival scramble. Dignity, relaxed keen awareness, harmonized mind and body, and calmness based on the ability to cope with most situations make Aikido so attractive to Western practitioners.

    It may seem that Aikido, although very effective on the individual level, cannot help to alleviate collective insecurity and prevent violence on a larger scale, but that would be a wrong and shortsighted assumption. Starting with improving oneself is the only way to enhance harmony around us. As ancient philosophers put it (I think it is attributed to St. John the Evangelist), one candle wipes out darkness. Lighting this candle inside oneself is a task of enormous difficulty and importance; there are many ways to light to choose from. We have chosen the path of Aikido. Domo arigato gozaimashita.

    Gregory