In the practice of Martial Arts it is often said that a technique is well done when one succeeds to channel and give back to the partner the energy received in his/her attack.
There’s no doubt this is true and it works. At the same time, this attitude often remains a chimera for various reasons.
It happens very often that we add our own energy to our partner’s. This is due to our insensitivity, inexperience, fears. In particular, we let our ego to show up. An ego repressed and harnessed little and badly by behavioral, ethical and moral patterns that we hardly manage to make ours.
It also happens the other way round: you can give back less (or you’re not able at all).
We are always a bit surprised when we listen to or read peremptory statements coming from this or that individual who asserts without any doubt: “Aikido, (Judo, Karate, Kendo, …) is …”
How can a technical and inner growth method be condensed into a sentence, confining it to a definition?
Yet,on these days, spent in villages in southern Italy, in a culture certainly connected to the globalized world but still firmly anchored to robust ethical principles, a characteristic of this path emerges with force, of this “do” that for us is Aikido, but that can be any discipline (martial or not).
It happens that, going to pay a visit to a relative who lives in a small village where everyone knows us, we are literally “adopted” for a day. Surrounded by courtesy, love and humanity (assumed precisely in the sense of 仁, jin, which is something more subtle than mere compassion, one of the virtues of bushido), we went back home full of gratitude as well as unexpected gifts : bread, wine, fruit, cheese.
In short, when there is harmony, when there is serenity in relationships -we would say: when there is love, not only “attack”does not exist but we often receive impressive and higher energy. More than what was expected.
Therefore the element of our discipline that can respect and honor this enormous silent flow of good (which does not silence pain, evil and does not cancel what’s going wrong, but is not dammed by), really becomes “giving back”.
“Giving back” lived as not preventing the good.
“Giving back” lived as taking care of those around us: patiently dedicating ourselves to our own growth, to those who are less experienced than us and to those who are ahead of us.
“Giving back” lived as spreading those tools that allow us to enjoy these moments, to have spaces and times to try to be better people.
“Giving back” lived as really filling with a tangible sense that white cotton wrapping held up by a more or less dark belt: if we do not become tools that spread truth and beauty, what’s the purpose of our practice on the tatami?