As iron rusts without use and water rots,
or freezes when cold,
in the same way the mind is ruined without training
(Leonardo da Vinci, Atlantic Codex 289)
by SIMONE CHIERCHINI
It seems that in modern society the actions of people must necessarily follow well-defined behavioural cycles. These cycles, moreover, are supposed to be separated from each other forever. Considering the life of an individual from an external point of view, and observing his life flow, what would you see? Phase one, childhood and adolescence, marked by playing and thoughtlessness. Then youth, phase two, committed to studying and gaining experience. Phase three is maturity, distinguished by production and work. Finally, phase four, characterised by retirement and inactivity.
Events don’t always follow this rhythm, this is true; but you can easily agree that this model of existence which runs through compartments is definitely the most common one.
An unproductive adult is considered to be a mere obstruction to the functioning of the social process. The one living in a care free ‘young’ way is out of fashion, ‘hippy’, and it disturbs one’s sight because of his dangerous and misleading example.
A young person that is thoughtful and moderate is in serious danger to be judged ill. If he is not involved enough with football, drinking and chasing girls, his parents will consider sending him to see a psychoanalyst.
What should I say about elderly people? Is there an answer to give to a retired person seeking for something to do in order to enjoy the remaining time? All they get is a couch and the telly.
There is a powerful poison hidden within us, ready to get into our system when one doesn’t want it, which is the attitude to let things roll on their own, to slide away upon events like a rolling stone. A bit at the time one gets to consider all that happens to be the result of the action of a superior and untouchable power, completely out of one’s control.
A lot of people don’t live, pretend to live, from time to time situated in next compartment, like in a box, to finish deservingly in the very last container, a litter bin.
Do not be afraid, I am not calling for a revolution. There have been many and all of them got nowhere. A legitimate objective would be to have the possibility of going through all the phases of one’s life, the ones still remaining at least, with a new attitude. Facing, accepting and living life fully through one’s different ages, giving a brand-new start to personal human and cultural development.
In order to maintain the current trend, modern society needs automatons which spend their lives set in the right compartment, where they will be functional to the system, to feed which they will be delivered, trained, used, squeezed and dumped. One should expropriate the system and become again the master of his mind, thinking that the silly process that is wasting our lives can be stopped right now. All one has to do is to put hand again to personal and cultural development, calling into play now – it does not matter if they universally think your time for that is over.
In the word Aikido, the Japanese martial art born from Ju-jutsu’s ashes, the ideograms Ai-ki-do mean path, way, personal development in action, perennial, for the entire life. It is not casual 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 confined Aikido world, the most popular clubs are very often those managed by people that changed Aikido into a recreational dance and the place of the practice (dojo) into some sort of tea room. You can go there to sweat a very small bit, have a chat, show off in front of the boss, and then back home, refreshed and ready to fall in line again as if nothing happened. I reckon there is no difference at all between practising martial arts with this attitude and staying home and watching telly.
Martial arts training can become a sort of key in order 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