Ambrož Karlovšek, Sevnica / Slovenia
While watching the war atrocities I remembered a saying that I came across somewhere a long time ago.
Morihei Ueshiba apparently once stated: »If everyone practiced aikido, the world would be a better place.«
I was not fully aware of the meaning of these words back then. Sometimes, when we hear something in our youth, this content is written deep into one's heart. It maybe resurfaces when a certain event occurs, many years later.
Mutual misunderstanding, being unable to listen to another person, disrespecting a fellow human being and a pinch of different interests, all these are a good formula to start a conflict. It happens instantly. When the drums of war start to beat, it is very difficult to silence them.
Violence and hatred always beget more violence and revenge. The ancient Romans already discovered that the war feeds itself (Latin: »Bellum se ipsum alet« or »Bellum se pascit, bellum se alit«).
Tears and blood flow at the time of war. What can a person do at such atrocities? How do we stop the wheels of war? How do we reach reconciliation? Do we accept victory or defeat? What is essentially the most important thing?
I am unable to give answers to these questions.
I know, however, that mutual respect, understanding and forgiveness are the right way. The circle of violence needs to be interrupted. It is important to have hope in a sense that after war there comes peace and placidity. There is a time for war and there is a time for peace.
All this is taught by the way of aikido. When we thoroughly immerse ourselves into aikido, we find out that there is a presence of “mercy” towards the attacker in each of the techniques, with the idea of respecting every living being.
We need to realize that we are only humans, nothing more, nothing less.
Of course, one needs to be aware of the fact, as an ancient Chinese wisdom goes, that it is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in war. Our goal is to harmonize our body and our spirit. It is almost impossible to understand a martial art without the real “budo”. History teaches us that the greatest martial artists at first had been warriors before they became philosophers.
We need to learn to remain calm, even though the whole world is collapsing in front of our eyes.
Aikido founder, Morihei Ueshiba was fully aware of this. In his youth he lived the way of a warrior. He was chasing pirates at sea, participated in many conflicts and fought in the Russo-Japanese War. During this period, he got acquainted with the atrocities of war. He discovered its nonsense.
He was looking for a new way, an art that would teach us how to live. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the philosophical shape of aikido was created in the vice of World War II. In 1942 the art got its final form (formerly known as aiki-jutsu). He abandoned the term “JUTSU” (fighting techniques) and
transformed it into “DO” which stands for a higher art, a harmony of spirit, as a path or a way of life. The atrocities of World War II have once again confirmed the right decision he had made and shaped the development of aikido as an art of peace and love.
In this time, I have realized that knowing the right way is not enough, for it is necessary to live it as well.
Aikido teaches us the importance of mutual respect, love and truth. With this kind of practice, we take care of us becoming better human beings.
Throughout numerous trainings on the tatami, I have met different people, discovered their personalities, their fears, aggression, anger, ego, vanity, kindness, joy and benevolence. I learnt about mutual respect and about the courage to always do the right thing in life.
I would like to conclude my thoughts with a belief that the sole wish for a better world does not suffice. It takes a lot of effort for its realization, the effort of each individual, who believes in this. And of course, courage, which isn’t up for sale!