Aikido – a historic perspective


All over the world people used to fight using swords, spears and other weapons. When they had no weapons at hand, they boxed or wrestled. Techniques of fighting were almost the same all over the world until guns were invented. Use of guns for fighting completely changed the way of fighting in war. In Japan guns were imported by Portuguese in 1543 and Japanese quickly started to make their own guns. Around 1590 guns were used in war fighting and turned out to be more efficient than traditional weapons. However use of guns were still limited because of limited fabrication. Around 1600 Japan was dominated by the Tokukawa clan and the Tokugawa clan managed to create a system of domination by samurai. In order to stabilize their domination, production and use of guns were prohibited and communication with the outside world was basically prohibited. By this opportunity arose for developing fighting methods without guns for 250 years, whereas in Europe guns were developed as the main weapon of fighting.

Since 1800 Europe started to colonize China. Europeans were not interested in Japan because it was too small compared with China. However US also wanted to participate in colonization of China and wanted to use Japan as a port before arriving at China. Around 1860 US navy came to Japan and forced Japan to give them a port as their territory. Then European countries also wanted to use the port so Japan was in danger of being colonized like China. Japan decided to create a strong army in order to defend itself from US and Europe so sword was prohibited and an army with guns was created.

Samurai in clans that kept the tradition of sword techniques were unhappy and tried to keep the tradition. One way was to convert to sports. This created Judo, and Kendo and Karate followed. Those sports type of martial arts were supported by university students. Those who did not want to go the sport way were called Kobudo or Jujitsu. One of Jujitsu was called Daitoryu Jujitsu and this was the technical basis of aikido. It is necessary to know that Judo techniques came from a martial arts that did not use sword, the same as with karate. That is why karate techniques include stick techniques but not sword techniques. Kendo was based on sword techniques but became a sport. Daitoryu Jujitsu was created by someone who liked sword and was good at sword techniques. He developed techniques without weapon using his ability of using swords. That is why Daitoryu Jujitsu techniques are very different from Judo or karate techniques.

Actually Daitoryu techniques are very similar to Kendo techniques. However as the techniques are practised, people forget sword and think of the situation of street fighting in their society. After the World war 2, there was a general idea that Japan should not fight and people had no guns and no sword. People thought of street fighting without weapon or maybe with stick or knife. So the new name of aikido was born in that situation. The idea of aikido was to control the situation without fighting. This mentality corresponded the tendency in US and Europe after 1960 and Aikido started to get supported philosophically. The idea of solving conflicts without fighting became a part of the aikido philosophy.

Then came the idea of self defence. What is self defence? Actually there is no difference between attack and defence. When one does certain action toward the other, it is called attack. Then the other does same thing, it is called defence. So defence is permitted only when one is attacked. If the attack comes without weapon, it is possible to wait until the attack comes and do something about it. But if the attack is done by guns and other highly developed weapon, it is almost impossible to defend oneself after the attack has started. It means you have to shoot the other before he shoots you. Then the question of knowing the intention of the other person arises. If a person has a gun in his hand, policemen doubt his intention so policemen immediately demands him to drop his gun and put both hands up. If it is dark, what should policemen do? Maybe a policeman is obliged to shoot the person before it is possible for the other to shoot him. Then there is the question if a police man has judged the situation correctly or not. If the attack and defence happens between two countries, it is more complicated. First one country is attacked but it is difficult to know who attacked. Then the country may assume that the attack is done by its enemy country and start the attack in the name of defence. Between two human beings, this is called revenge and prohibited by law. However the government can punish the criminal so that the victim does not have to revenge. Between two countries, there is no authority above them, so revenge is permitted. Again it is not easy to distinguish between revenge and defence. The whole problem arises because the act of attack, revenge, and defence are the same. It is only a matter of interpretation.

In aikido it is possible to create a completely new philosophy. Aikido does not have to be self defence. Defence is the same as attack. Aikido is a way to create situations in which an attack is not likely to occur. If an attack does not occur, defence is not necessary. I think this is the only way to achieve peace.

Doshu


English is the original language. 

Sensei writes in English.

The translations are wrong if you

read them literally ment, 

see them as an help to understanding the English texts.