Can Aikido Cultivate Evil?

I was plagued by this thought for a while now, and I didn’t quite know how to explain it to a level that is sufficiently satisfied for me.

So I put up the question to my friends from National University of Singapore Aikido Club. They gave some really deep insights on this subject matter, I guess it bothered them as much as it bothered me. I thanks them for helping me to the ‘right’ answer.

Evil is a strong word, and it can be quite abstract, so in order for this post to continue, let’s refer to Wikipedia for a general reference on ‘evil’ ( Personally for me, evil kind of refers to ‘doing harm to others so as to achieve a person’s own selfish agenda.’ I think the adjective used in Wikipedia is ‘immoral’ well, we can work with that.

I think we all have a general sense of what ‘evil’ is. Then again I just want to be safe here to declare, this post is about evil as I see it. Hopefully, I can generalise it sufficiently to get a sense of platonic agreement. Its heavy stuff here, so the post will be long. Caveat Emptor.

This thought came to me, more specifically for Aikido, because of how Aikido is ‘branded’. People who knows, read about, learned, studied about Aikido, will know the martial art’s general value. the few common adjectives is ‘harmony’, ‘love’, ‘gentle’ and so on, you get the drift.

So originally, I was thinking, can an evil person learn Aikido, uses its teachings and techniques to achieve evil intents? Can a very well learned Aikdioka, start a war? Carry out a rape? Rob? Maim? Kill? Peddle drugs? Plot murder? Cheat?

The consensus is still one that describes the ‘Abuse of Aikido.’. Well, if you look at the techniques of Aikido, they can be deadly. You can kill, maim, and hurt someone seriously, if you want to. but to orchestrate that?

Or as my title proposes, can Aikido Cultivate Evil?

We are not talking about a person joined Aikido for a decent cause, and then turned ‘evil’ later on. I am specifically asking, a person, who is already ‘evil’, harboring immoral thoughts, join Aikido, learn sufficiently to carry out evil deeds?

Not to stereotype other martial arts, but striking arts like Karate, Tae Kwon Do, MMA, showcased a far greater range of ‘kinetic’ techniques, punches, kicks, chokes, take downs, which can be easily learned. One can become quite technically sound after a short span of time in these arts, and these skills can be effectively employed on anyone with obvious devastating effect. Put it in a simple form, most Armed Forces in world would teach their cadres Krav Maga, as oppose to Taichi. I hope I’ve made my point. I think, someone with an evil mind can learn such a skill and apply it with quite a devastating effect.

That brings us to the the ‘application’ of the art. ‘Applied Aikido’

It is about application, I want to narrow the argument and not look at 2 very diplomatic response.

1-‘It depends                              2- ‘Its the singer not the song’

I can look at these 2 response and feel perfectly happy. If I simply embrace these 2 answers, we can keep this protracted post relatively short.

‘It depends’

Sure, Aikido is just a system,a martial arts, it depends on who learns it and how it is being used. Just like any other tools. It also depends on the circumstance of the person who is in training.

‘Its the singer not the song’

This discharges the Art of Aikido of all responsibilities on what kind of person it churns out. So it simply put it ‘Evil in, evil out.’ If the person already has a predisposed evil qualities, the person can learn Aikido for ten years and still continue to commit immoral acts. Its the person who takes the art, whatever art, that might be, and interpret it in a manner that suits the person’s predisposition.

There I’ve nailed it. Case Close.

But wait, it is not that simple.

Anyone who wants to learn Aikido to do evil, or twist the principles of Aikido for harm and selfish means, are wasting their time.  Aikido is not easy to master, and apply. The techniques are pretty easy, but the principle behind them are more difficult. Martial arts makes people think, feel and fail, long time practitioners of any martial arts discipline are generally nice folks. The relentless and rigorous regime of a martial arts discipline helps to temper the most violent souls, or at least those who are willing to undergo the tempering.

For Aikido, it is all the more difficult, as there are little or no kinetic based moves, kicks, explosive punches, deadly armbars, neck chokes. Most of the time Aikido moves are smooth and graceful, there are dramatic moves that hardly qualifies as violent. Aikidokas take swords, disarm daggers, but we are not really taught how to use them to great effect, we do not have ‘tanto-waza’, those who wants to learn how to use the katana to kill? Better grab a kitchen knife instead.

Evil or crime has to do with time. for anyone to seriously thinking about using Aikido as a skill to commit crime, will end up spending years before any proficiency can be attained. Crimes and wars are opportunistic events, you need to capitalise on that moment of weakness to achieve your gain, get your loot. It is a tactical game. Martial arts is a strategic game, it does things to your head in the long term, sure it can be tactically applied, but why? Why waste time learning irimi nage, to rob a person, when you can simply grab a knife and rob a person? Stab a person? Martial arts is about the relentless chase of perfection in the techniques, anyone who has a criminal mind, is unlikely to stay long enough to learn the skills to use in a crime.

Moreover, anyone who is serious in Martial Arts, knows that long time study of it can change a person, change the way you think about violence, how unfair the world is. The longitudinal endeavour of Martial Arts, helps a person discover and build character. It makes you become more related to the environment, helps cultivate a sense of interdependence. foster teamwork. You’ll understand that that is so much more to gain working together, than just with your own selfish agendas, as to commit an unlawful act.

Surely, there are some singers out there who wants to twist the songs to suit their needs,  but generally these are lousy singers, who just wants to sing a song anyway they want, and hence, any song will do, as long as the means gets them to the end. If you are serious about singing ONE song well, then you’ll have to take the time to find that song, in you. And when you sing a song well, you’ll have to sing it repeatedly, until the song becomes you, that will take too much time for anyone who just wants to sing a song.


About Who is Randy Lim

This blog is about the journey and experiences in my life as an Aikidoka. With close to 20 years in the arts, I'll make comments and judgements based on 2 principles, E&E. Experimentation and Experiential reflection. please enjoy, and comment freely.
This entry was posted in Something else, the grey matter and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Can Aikido Cultivate Evil?

  1. I for one will say anything – including Aikido – can be used for ill will.

    My biggest concern – and I believe is the true question – is what kind of people are learning Aikido; The “singer not the song” argument. I’ve heard of stories of high ranking black belts being ousted as “evil” (pedophiles, people who use violence to get their way, etc.). It wasn’t so much the art that was exploited, it’s just that they were that type of people to begin with – Aikido just gave them an avenue to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

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