Friday, March 13, 2015


Rory just published a thought, on his blog, that seems to have been bugging him for a while. Thought #1, in that post.

Personally, I don't know enough of Lord Acton's life to judge if he was being sincere. He wouldn't be the first powerful politician to go against "his own". Engels and Kropotkin, for instance.


Yagyū Munenori, of iaijutsu treatise fame (and starring several manga, and...), had the luxury of writing those treatises... because he was a courtier, absent from battle, worried by duels but not armies. Meanwhile, his brothers were invading natives' lands. Do we know what Cortez's family wrote regarding military matters? Or Custer's?

Miyamoto Musashi was a rural orphan "samurai" who left home at 16, deserted his lord in death (good idea, I would think, but quite improper for a worthy samurai) and became a brawler, one of those ronin who gave the name a bad rep. And, yes, he won a lot of duels. So, self-defence expert? Maybe. Great painter? Sure, much later on, tamed. The ultimate authority in strategy and budo? Hardly.

Morihei Ueshiba [*] hung himself from tree branches, loaded with weights, so that he could join the army... in time of a war of aggression (Russo-Japanese War). Not a particular "Do" moment, much less pacifist.

In the West, Machiavelli keeps saying that fear is more powerful than love... and then tries to bootlick his place into a court instead of joining the Inquisition. Adriano Emperado, "train until someone bleeds to be strong", had the luxury of remaining a civilian during the Korean war... and yet his training might have something to do with 20 years in a wheelchair.

And on and on...

No, I don't think this invalidates their stories, their narrative. BUT. Be aware, don't eat the narrative uncritically, hook, line and sinker. A narrative, BTW, probably heavily shaded by transmission. At the very least, those experiences shaped their teachings. Maybe, being aware will actually help you understand their teachings, be a better aikidoka (and, man, could I give you examples!). And beware of "interpretation cults".

Take care. Be aware.

[*] Recall: restoration onwards, names start being transcribed in a Western order.

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