The difference is subtle.
Everyone who is decently trained in Martial Arts of any discipline will have a certain degree of readiness in handling some form of combat, street violence and other unforeseen unpleasant circumstances
But being ready doesn’t mean that you will be prepared to do what is needed when the times comes to doing it. Most people as marital artists, would like the ‘artists’ part more than the ‘martial’ part. There is a lot of winning through techniques, skills, strategy, and there is often little or no blood, gore, raw grit and sheer application of terror and violence.
What we practiced on the mat, prepares us little about the kind of violence perpetrators are PREPARED to dish out to get what they want. More often than not, even when we are sufficiently trained that made us combat ready, but we are not prepared to up our level of finesses in violence to end the attack that is coming our way.
So even when we are trained, and attend classes consistently, we risk being stuck in a mindset that an attack might only happen in a specific way which we are trained in. It doesn’t. Because we are Aikidoka, doesn’t necessarily mean that our attackers will attack us the way we are attacked by our Uke. It almost never happen that way.
A person who has nothing to lose will always be prepared to do whatever necessary to attain his/her goals. People in a fight for survival will always be prepared to go the ‘extra mile’ and fight to the very last breath. This is a very different mind-set from someone who is ‘ready’ for fighting. Someone who is trained, might not be prepared to dish out violence to stop violence.
This is a chronic fallacy for an art like Aikido, which predisposed ‘harmony’ and peace’, so we end up with hippy-like mentality that all is well and we should harmonises with our opponent. That means doing things nicely, don’t hurt people, behave ethically, respect your attacker. So even senior Aikidokas takes it easy, thinking that they will be ready, when the time comes. The amount of violence people are willing to dish out in attacking you can be beyond any comprehension of a martial artist. Even in Aikido, there are moves that are violence and highly damaging, even life-ending, but not a lot of Aikidoka are prepared to up the level of violence, apply violence to stop violence. In fact, the very mention of violence, is abhorred. Aikido is a smooth, flowing, harmonious way of combat, and all fighting should be like this. It is not, and sometimes, reality can be the furthest from the dojo!
The Boy-Scout Rule
The Scouts says it best in their motto, ‘Be Prepared’ and not ‘Be Ready’. As there is a lot more to do in preparation, in fact, if you have a be prepared mindset, it will mean that you will never be ready. There is no ends in preparation, but the moment you begin to say that you are ‘ready’, then you closed your mind to learning how to constantly hone your skill to meet all possible form of violence and combat.
Being prepared in a martial arts, is to make sure that we are able to use our skills, to kill, maim, and apply violence in a manner that does not look methodical, absolutely without aesthetic, and the end result will look nothing like the martial arts we all train so hard for years. Being prepared for combat means things might be ugly, violent, and there will be hurt, blood, gore. When violence is applied, nothing ever ends nicely, there is no nice break-falls, not many people get away unscathed.
It a MAD, MAD world
In military doctrine, there is a term called ‘Mutually Assured Destruction‘, at a high level, we are talking about a kind of stalemate, which either side are so well armed, that nobody wants to push the first button. For a martial artist, we must be willing to think first-strike to end any subsequent follow-up capabilities of our opponent. We must be able to forsake our being and bring the fight to the opponent, before the opponent bring the fight to us. If we think M-A-D, not a lot of people will be willing to match that level of craziness, and be prepared to be sacrificed with ourselves, since we are going down, might as well take a few more with them when we go down; be that crazy; that is sometimes enough to stop people, and trigger their self preservation instinct. When we fight with no care of worry about coming out of that fight alive, we put a level of determination, not many human beings will like to test. And be prepared to apply a level of violence that overwhelms violence. Even in our nice, civil society, no matter how well dressed we are, we must be able to fight at a moment’s notice, defend ourselves, attack with vigor and think combat. This is more than ready, this is to be prepared in a way that when it happens, our mind gets into action, and deal with the matter at hand. Otherwise all that we learned as a martial artists, makes us only artists, ready but unprepared.