I had a chance to share a session with my NUS mates, and I took the opportunity to share with them what we need to do. The Martial part of Martial Arts.
What we do isn’t play play, at the end of the day we must be willing to use what we have learn to take lives. Martial arts has evolved from a very dark history, it was meant to take life, kill people. It is not for fun, exercise, or for other lifestyle benefits.
I wanted to bring this heavy, dark topic in and bring people back to why Aikido is Aikido. We do not have a competition system, where you do things to earn a point, you get a medal or win a championship. Yes we have rules, we have safety, but beyond that you can take what you learn over the edge.
Aikido, as an art of peace and harmony, I feel, is an overused cliché. At the present moment we live in a world filled with random violence. Incidences such as the Paris attack, Belgium bombings, Mumbai attack are real, and it can happen where we live. The authorities are still trying to come to terms with terrorists who are not keen to take hostages for negotiation. These terrorists are not keen to negotiate, they are keen to extract maximum damage and loss of innocent lives along with theirs.
It is not a matter of bravado, or being a ‘hero’, I told the class, but if I am in the unlikely event of having to face one of these terrorists, and I am able to stop them before they could do more harm, I would, kill the person, even at the expense of my own life. Perhaps, I might piss my pants, shit my pants, but I told myself, I must act, despite of fear. I must use all that I know, in Aikido, or other means necessary to kill the attacker. The terrorist must die, before many more people die.
The logic for me, is simple, if I let the attacker go, I know and did nothing, the person will talk towards the designated target, be it a shopping mall, or subway station, and detonate himself or herself, or shoot people there. My kids might be there, my family might be at the MRT station where the attacker is going to launch the attack, my friends, loved ones will die. The terrorists will kill indiscriminately.
So I think at this juncture, given our current climate and that the ISIS has proven that they are willing to attack anywhere and everywhere, anyone and everyone, we need to rethink what we can do as citizens, and as martial artists. I don’t think we can persuade them out of pressing the detonator, irimi tenkan, or kote gaishi, will be very much useless, when the bomb fragments starts flying, but we need to fight them at an ideological level. Aikido is budo, what we learned is skilled, applied violence, we need to use that skill to stand in the way of random violence. If we have once chance to do something to stop these people, we must act. Budo is the preservation of life, sometimes, we need to sacrifice our life so that we can preserve the life of others, including those of our loved ones.
This brings to mind that guy who brought down the plane in Sept 11 terrorist attack, Todd Beamer. Long story short, he knew that the plane will probably slam into some other area causing more deaths on the ground, so he rally up his fellow passengers and fought the terrorists and successfully brought the plane down on a field Pennsylvania, killing everyone on board, but causing losing no more lives on the ground.
It is not a perfect ending, as in life there isn’t, but when we have the courage to act, and stop bad things from happening, we can still do good in a world of bad. The irony is we need to do bad things to bad people, so that these bad people do not harm other good people. It is very simple writing it out, but I hope the NUS class that evening, understood the gravity of my uncomfortable truth.