Can a discipline help to better investigate the phenomenon we call “life”? And if so, how?
Faced with life, we are overwhelmed by our limits. We all have a direct experience of it, because we are all crossed by and surrounded by life. Defining life in a complete way or schematizing it in such a way as to be able in giving life to inert matter, well this goes beyond our possibilities.
Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Medicine, and all the sciences that derive from them help us to understand more and more certain mechanisms. We know how to modulate the natural elements so that life processes can take root in the best possible way. We manage to plan and expand the productivity of plants and cattle. We manage to extend the lifespan of many individuals by granting them good care and medicines.
Yet, we can’t say to a bunch of muscles, tendons, bones and blood: raise to life! We have the power to investigate matter yet not to bring it to life.
The history of mankind rather testifies to the opposite. Huge resources are invested to refine more and more the destructive capacity to resolve a conflict in the clearest, fastest and most impactful way (for the enemy) possible.
Martial Arts, even if lived as a sport, even if deprived of their competitive aspect, have their roots in this groove. Every soldier in the Japanese army today is equipped with a Heckler & Kock Sfp 9M and a 5.56 caliber assault rifle. It does not march dressed in gi, it does not attack with chudan tsuki, it does not defend itself with gedan barai unless the army’s strategy is make any attacking enemies laughing to death.
However, even today, millions of people find the practice of a discipline useful, a practice which uses the grammar of a fighting language that is in itself outdated by weapons. And it is interesting that in all armies, especially in elite corps, the study of these disciplines is a fundamental element of military training.
Obviously, there is an undoubted technical value in the case of a close combat. But there is more.
Anyone, at any level, who practices any technique, feels that it is much easier to harm than to preserve. How the escalation shortcut can be the easy solution to the conflict.
It happens much, much less to render an attack harmless without rage, without causing pain, without adding your own strength to the strength received. In a word, without violence.
On these pages, we had already dealt with the Japanese concepts of “Setsunin tō “( sword that gives death ) and” Katsujin ken “(sword that gives life ) . History has seen with her dusty eyes infinite forests of swords wounding to death, but never to restore the life that they had just cut.
So what’s the point of talking about a sword, a blow that gives life? Of course, in some cases, this exotic phrase can represent that comfortable conceptual refuge of those who, dispensing joint levers, bruises and dislocations, will convince themselves that they behave like a saint only because they’re convinced that they’re in the Katsujin ken mood.
I strongly believe that training, directed under technical supervision and enriched by mature orientation, could and should open windows of awareness on our nature. A nature made of and for life but incredibly attracted by the ability to destroy it, manipulate it, pervert it.
We live very dematerialized lives. So many of us believe we are men and women of peace just because we don’t live in a war.
Thus, when the value of our natural inclination opens, the unlucky one who stands in front of us experiences all our pacifism and our inner balance.
The Dojo should be the place where we are guided to make contact also with this part of ours to rebalance our ability to choose, because what is really rebalanced is the interfacethrough which we can understand what we are experiencing. Better: we learn not to make fun of ourselves and to understand who we are and how we are made.
Technique after technique, therefore, you can look out over the abyss full of potential and never dormant scars that is our life and make contact with it, learning every day to live in it, to live in it, to feel it flowing powerful, more powerful than any of our limits.
In this horizon, in this continuous today in which we can decide if, how and why to direct our steps on a path, there are some indicators that can be useful.
During practice does sometimes arise some aspect of us / our partner that surprises us and that we didn’t expect?
Can we not take personally what happens?
Do we manage, from time to time, to perceive the needs of the other even if they do not express them verbally?
Do we feel, from time to time, the feeling of the perfect absurdity of attacking / reacting?
Are we happy ?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then we are probably alive and, through us, life can be communicated and transmitted. After all, to quote a great Aikido teacher, the practice is only done among living people, yet there are many people who exist without being truly alive.
Disclaimer: photo by Pixabay by Pexels (CC0)