It is seldom talked about, but much of Aikido’s contemporary woes, in particular its widespread martial ineffectiveness and the identity crisis it is suffering from that ineffectiveness, cannot be too separated from the fact that Aikido has quite successfully isolated itself from other martial arts over the recent past decades. This isolation effort has been done knowingly and unknowingly, and it has been done positively and negatively. Positively, for example, would be efforts to note and find Aikido’s “uniqueness.” Negatively, for example, would be efforts to provide Aikido with some sort of moral superiority, one upon which its practitioners come to feel justified in looking down upon other arts.


Both efforts, as is the overall effort to seek and remain isolated, are matters of abiding in delusion. There is the delusion concerning other arts: "Other arts are violent, injurious, and do not teach practitioners to seek peace and to cultivate spiritual maturity." There is the delusion concerning Aikido: "Aikido is a non-violent art, having techniques that do not cause injury, and is practiced by a peaceful and spiritually mature population." With but a little self-release, and through the use of sound reasoning, one can of course see that the delusions supporting such isolation efforts are but the downside of “group think" and conformation bias. They are the result you get when you seek a lack of competing perspectives, and what is lost is the positive benefit those competing perspectives bring to an inquiry or a discipline seeking authenticity, accuracy, and truth.


But, there is something else that stands out for me, and it is this: How or why or upon what basis can any art claiming to be of the Universe, practiced by those seeking to be one with the Universe, any art by which one could become “one with the Universe," how can such art look outside itself and say, “What you do has nothing to do with me,” or “There is a line between your art and my art. You learn your art, and I will learn my art”? Meaning, undoubtedly, there is a great advantage to reducing group think and to be on guard against confirmation bias, to exposing oneself to other arts and to their perspectives, frequently and at depth, but there remains a bigger point to be made and it is this: An Aikido that seeks isolation, a uniqueness, one that functions through an outside and an inside with a demarcating line between the two, is ultimately an Aikido that is antithetical unto itself. It is a false Aikido.

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