Last night I almost beat someone up for the first time in my life. What made it worse is that the person was around 70 and much smaller than myself. I always thought that the only way that I would allow myself to engage in a tussle is if someone threatened Rudy, my labradoodle. I was the only one who got threatened, and the fact that I still got this angry is what makes me want to tell this story. I was driving my scooter marginally over the speed limit about a half mile from my home in my safe and quiet neighborhood. It was around 7pm when a new gold Mercedes convertible swerved to hit me coming from the opposite direction. I avoided being hit by maneuvering the scooter a foot from the sidewalk and did a U-turn to see what the hell was going on. There the Mercedes was, waiting for me about 100 yards ahead of me, stopped right in the middle of the road. There was an old man getting out and as I approached he started screaming at me, “Drive slower!”. I replied “Screw you, you tried to kill me,”, grabbed him by his shoulders and placed him back in the convertible. He looked up at me and said “I’ll kill you if you touch me again” which I responded with an angry yell “You tried to kill me, now you are threatening to kill me? Wow”. He got out the car and started to tell me, “You will be hearing from my attorney”, to which I responded “Lets not wait, you almost killed me, then you threatened my life. I’m calling 911” . So I did, and was immediately placed on hold and on hold I stayed for a good 3 minutes as our the banter continued. I finally looked at him, and said “Hey, how about I tell you I will drive slower, and you tell me you won’t try to kill any more motorists and we will shake hands and be on our way.” We shook hands and left understanding each other a little bit better.
So the interesting Aiki side of this story is that I lost my equilibrium. I was more angry and rattled than I would want to be. For legal and other reasons it was probably not good that I touched the gentleman. O’Sensei, the founder of Aikido, said something like “It is not that I lose my balance, it is how quickly I regain it”. I clearly lost my balance. I grabbed an old guy by the collar and put him back into his shiny convertible. What was surprising is that I actively protected him as I placed him into the drivers seat. Even with fear and anger, the response was not to injure, but to make sure his landing was safe. I tell this story with the hope of altering the landscape of martial arts stories. I would love to see the win being that both parties leaving without a roundhouse to the face, a nikyo to the wrist, or a choke out.
I think the established way of telling martial art stories is that the bad guy does something wrong, the good guy vaguely tries to avoid physical confrontation, and then is righteously forced to use his skills to save himself and the innocents around. In the world that I live in (and that I think most people I know live in), that story is one dimensional. However, I believe that there are at least four dimensions:
1. Legal – will I open myself up to a legal action through my actions
2. Economic – will I have to defend my wealth by virtue of my actions
3. Emotional – how will I feel about myself based on my actions?
4. Physical – how do I protect my physical and the physical well being of people around me?
In the endless drone of the Hollywood martial arts story, the kick to the face, the powerful nikyo to the wrist and the masterful choke out will all only deal with 4 dimensions of protecting oneself, and as I believe in some ways, those are the least relevant.