As you may have gathered from the article on Aikido last week I practiced the art of Aikido for nearly a decade, and found it a useful part of my Pagan path. I did it mainly for the meditation and ethical aspects in addition to learning how the way Ki, the life-force also used in magick – was used and circulated around the body.
Similar to Paganism Aikido contains traditional forms and ways of doing things that at first glance seem to be quaint holdovers from earlier times. One of these is the practice of techniques in the kneeling position, or one person sitting and one standing (the latter is usually the attacker). I was happy to practice this, but many of my fellow Aikidoka (Aikido arts students) were not as it was uncomfortable and we live in a society where people spend little time sitting on the floor. At this time the traditional training had little apparent use.
Years later I was sitting in an armchair when I was attacked by an irate drug dealer [long story] who launched himself at me in an attempt to trap me in the chair and do me a severe mischief. Automatically I flowed Ki into both arms and lifted them slightly towards him as in the kneeling training. The drug dealer grabbed my proffered arms giving me all his energy to do with as I wished.
There is a saying in Aikido that the person who is emotionally unbalanced is also physically unbalanced, and this was to prove dramatically true in the case of my potential assailant. I lead most of his power down/out to one side with my right hand, and directed the remainder upwards with my left. In Aikido this technique is called the “Heaven and Earth” throw due to the way the attacking energy is split between up and down. Done standing up it looks almost like the pose the figure is in on the Magician card of the Tarot
The result of this technique was to lead him out in a dive to my left and cause him to turn a half summersault in mid-air. He hit the wall like a wrecking ball, knocking all the air out of his lungs in a loud “Uff!” and creating a ‘ghost wall’ out of loose plaster and dust that projected about six inches from the usual one. He stayed in this inverted position for what seemed ages until gravity took over from inertia and he dropped headfirst into the narrow gap between the chair and the wall that ran at right angles to the one he hit.
“He slipped and landed on his head” I said trying to look cool “Careless chap” and picked up my mug of tea that, fortunately, was on a table to my left. I was a little concerned at the lack of movement after he had landed, but tried not to show it. I did consider balancing my mug on his backside if only to make any small movements – like breathing- more noticeable, but decided against it.
The whole room had gone silent. The few people there seemed to be stunned at the way one of the most feared members of the local community had magically been overcome by a small man who hadn’t even bothered to get out of his chair. As a group they had probably seen more violence than most people, but this was different. The only violence had been on the part of the drug dealer who was now in an upside-down position beside my chair. Aikido had put him there in a way that was entirely new to them and they looked amazed as every expectation of how the world worked was, literally, turned on its’ head.
Conversation didn’t exactly flow, so I sipped my tea and awaited further developments. In a few minutes there was some twitching of the body beside me, and some gurgles. I reached down, placed the palm of my hand in the small of the drug dealers’ back, and braced my elbow against the wall then, still with the tea in my other hand, pushed. I aimed towards the clear area in front of my chair and to my surprise he rolled out relatively easily, ending up in a dazed semi-sitting position in front of me.
“That wasn’t very nice” I told him “Now go for a walk and calm down”. I’d have liked to tell him to leave and not come back – but since I was actually in his house at the time that wasn’t really feasible.
Some of his friends helped him up and guided him to the door. After he left things became a bit stilted so I left. Later I learned that he didn’t remember what had happened; just that he had grabbed me and the next thing he knew he was sitting on a bench in the middle of town with a headache and sore back and neck. Needless to say all sorts of stories started circulating particularly as everyone knew I was a practicing Wizard and Pagan.
According to some of them I had made some sort of mystic gesture and he had flown into the corner of the room without me touching him. Other variations had him being hurled into the corner of the room by a bolt of lightning. I was both amazed and amused by the things people thought had happened, even after I tried to explain it was a simple instinctual Aikido technique.
I didn’t really mind the stories as they had the effect of stopping any more violence and made people think twice about starting any trouble, Not only with me, but with anyone else generally because I had mentioned how many people practiced Aikido and similar martial arts. I emphasised that you couldn’t tell who just by looking at them, and the milder they were it might be more likely that they were martial artists. Thus my use of Aikido not only protected myself, but also stopped others from using violence as an option when they might have before. It’s a type of magick I like to think Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, would have approved of.