Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Harmony of Violence

Originally I thought 'The Love of Violence' would be a good catchy title, but then I really couldn't see where love and violence ties in. Traditional show of love through violence, can only be construed as abnormal Neanderthal behaviour by today's standards. Beating a child much like 'Spare the rod, spoil the child' has been debunked thrice over by modern child psychologists and what not. Having gone through all that myself as a kid though, I have no real argument for or against it. Simply said, I would hit my child if he becomes naughty but only if there is just cause and only in certain circumstances. The first and most important being, you can only hit your child with love and never in anger or in a fit. The others that follow are only logical such as hitting in the fleshy areas or the palm of the hand, never near nerves and bones and never of course anywhere near the head (i.e. slapping the face). Hit, not pinch. Pinching is worst then hitting. Also hit using a cane and never with your bare hands. Unless you're mommy and you've never conditioned your hands through martial practice, and even then I would recommend a cane. You see, a cane might give a nasty sting to each strike, but presumably won't break the skin since you're not whipping to hurt. But a hand, has mass, and bone behind it... that can cause accidental damage to a young child's bone, muscle or nerve.

Anyway, its not about 'The Love of Violence' and its not about canning the child. So I thought, the Harmony of Violence is an accurate description of my blog today.

The reason behind it was because someone remarked about the roughness shown in class sometimes. Well its kind of hard to judge what exactly is rough and what is gentle, its a very long slide of relative measurement. Someone might consider a shove as rough whilst some only consider something like an atemi to the face as rough. Be it as it may, we do not emphasise bodily strength in our class. Ki Shin Tai as it stands require that we forge our bodies in the early stage so as to understand technique done using bodily strength. But that is a stage of learning, in order for us to move to and understanding doing techniques using Ki, mind or intent. So it was quite surprising to be given such a comment by a student.

I then wondered in what way is it rough or violent. If strength was not a factor, was the technique rougher that it should be? Surely not, since the ikkyo was done without a face plant nor a dislocated joint. It wasn't clash, nor did it originate from a strike or a block to uke's attack. So where does the violence creep in?

What we did today was really practice chushin. Chushin in ourselves without question, but more about chushin to chushin connection. Being able to understand this relationship allows us to deal with attacks without getting caught up in them. It is easily demonstrable that fighting an attackers shomen, or jab-straight combo, would inevitably result in an all-out melee. One that could have you blocking strike after strike, or having both of you duking it out like a couple of school yard bullies. Attacking uke's chushin directly however, using just kamae alone will bear noticeable difference in the outcome. Done right, uke will have no power to continue his attack.

Doing this however requires establishing a connection to uke's chushin over a distance. This requires understanding of maai, zanshin and spirit of atemi. Without these components, and without a good hara and extension, it would probably result in a melee again.

To demonstrate it in equal fashion, I had uke attack again and again. Then I pre-empted uke's attack. Just controlling the attack line and uke's chushin just walk over or pass through uke's space, if he attacks you just sort of roll over him and ikkyo might be a result. This ikkyo is often compact and would have uke landing with his legs folded under him with him on his back. But it won't feel forced.

I was wondering if this was what the call on rough was all about... surely not.

Still, if it was, then we'll just have to work on that a little bit more I guess. It got me thinking though. That violence isn't generally something that is attributable only to a fight or chaos. Harmony can be violent too. The ikkyo I did could lead to a violent end, even though it wasn't done to cause harm, nor was it premeditated. But the fact that uke's attack was immediately and instantly return onto him including the force behind nage's casual irimi through him, it could have resulted in a tremendously powerful finish. That could be violent if seen from the receivers point of view. See... nage doesn't fight. He does not block and he doesn't attack uke. All he did was go through uke's attack and give it back. Uke's force and energy comes back to him violently, as violently as uke tried to attack nage in this case. Nage's encounter was harmonious but uke's receiving point was violent and that's where we can establish that harmonious encounters need not be all flowery and lovely and round and round and stuff like that. It could be equally as harmonious as a steamroller going through its motions, flattening anything in its way, including Arthur Dent's house.

Sensei mentioned things like the Tsunami, earthquakes as harmonious. Well, if you tell it to the thousands of people who have lost their lives, loved ones and property in those calamities, you'd probably get a punch in the nose (unless you irimi and do ikkyo or rokkyo on him - heh). But to earth it is harmonious. Its just like lightning. Nature is seeking balance. Harmonious doesn't mean feathers and flowers, rain even monsoons are harmonious and very natural. The volcano erupting is harmonious. One wonders, what would really happen if all the earthquakes, tsunamis, lightning and volcanic eruptions were kept in tightly in check. Maybe large populations of now extinct animals might still be alive, and human beings would be in the bottom of the food chain, or maybe disease would have been so prolific that barely a handful of human beings are still normal, the rest have become mutants and zombies, or maybe entire plains are now deserts, or maybe water tables are virtually nonexistent and earth is decaying from the core. See, what we microbes err I mean people selfishly think is violent, might be the only thing that keeps every living thing on earth in balance and by that we mean in harmony.

Therefore, what we could take from this is do not be afraid of violence, instead only be discontent with disharmony. Sometimes, to be harmonious calls for an act of violence. Yet, this act of violence could only be achieve harmoniously if done in a state of emptiness, of acceptance. Done in a premeditated manner, this violent act could only have transpired through internal persuasion which inevitably will lead to disharmony.

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