Aikido as Life’s Picklock

“Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigour of the mind. So we must stretch ourselves to the very limits of human possibility. Anything less is a sin against both God and man.”
Leonardo da Vinci, Atlantic Codex 289


In contemporary society, people’s actions throughout life are supposed almost inevitably to follow well-defined behavioural cycles. These cycles, furthermore, are commonly seen as forever separated from each other.

What do we see when we observe an individual’s life flow from the outside? There is phase one, childhood, which is marked by playing and Freedom from worries. After there is youth, phase two, committed to studying and gaining experience. Phase three is maturity, distinguished by production and work. At the end, we have phase four, characterised by retirement and inactivity.

Things don’t always go this way, that’s true, but it can be easily agreed that this type of existence which runs through compartments is the most common one.

An unproductive adult is considered to be a mere obstruction to the functioning of the social process. An adult living in a carefree ‘young’ way is out of fashion, a ‘hippy’. Its sight is even disturbing, because of his dangerous and misleading example.

A thoughtful and moderate youngster seriously risks being considered unwell. Youths that are not sufficiently involved with football, drinking and chasing girls could cause their parents to send them to attend the psychoanalyst.

What about elderly people? Is there an answer to give to retired people seeking for opportunities to do good with their remaining time? All they get is a couch and the telly.

There is a powerful poison hidden within each of us, ready to enter our system when we need it the least. It is the attitude of letting things roll by themselves, of slipping away on events like a rolling stone. Gradually, we train ourselves to consider that everything that happens to us is the effect of a higher and untouchable power, completely beyond our control.

A lot of people don’t live, profess to live, from time to time situated in the next compartment, like in a box, deservingly ending in the very last receptacle, a litter bin.

people in boxes

Do not be afraid, I am not calling for a revolution. There have been many and all of them got us nowhere. A genuine purpose, however, would be aspiring to go through all the phases of our life – or at least the ones that still remain, with a different attitude. It would be exhilarating to face, accept and live life fully through one’s different ages, and that can be done by taking a brand-new start in our personal and cultural development.

To maintain its current toxic ways, contemporary society requires us to be automatons who spend their lives housed in the appropriate compartment. In there we will be functional to the system, to feed which we were born, trained, used, squeezed and dumped. This system needs expropriating. We must regain control and decide that the senseless process that has been wasting our lives can be stopped in this very moment. It can be done by working on personal and cultural development anew, calling it into play now – it does not matter if they universally think your time for that is over.

In the word Aikido, a martial art born from the ashes of classical Japanese Ju-jutsu, the ideogram do of Aiki-do indicates path, way, personal development in action, permanent, for the entire life. It is not accidental that in contemporary society Aikido is one of the least known and popular disciplines, whereas activities with no purpose other than recreational are in full swing everywhere — even slaves have the right to a little fun.

Even in the limited world of Aikido, the most popular dojo are often those managed by people that changed Aikido into a leisurely martial dance and the place of the practice into a tea room in motion. You can go there to sweat a very small bit, have a chat, show off in front of the boss, and then go back home, somewhat refreshed and ready to fall in line again as if all is hunky-dory. There is little difference between practising martial arts with this attitude and staying home and watching telly.

Budo training can become the key to unlock the system and throw it out, as a first step, from the possession of our thought and its development.

Source: Aikido Dojo Katharsis Milano Newsletter, 1994

Copyright Simone Chierchini ©1994
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