Who is the Enemy?
December 2, 1996 · 10:30pm EST · Posted by Fujiyama Dojo
Fujiyama Dojo
P.O. Box 20003
Thorold, ON, Canada
L2V 5B3
(905) 680-6389
All true aiki deshi have gone through the same experience of dealing with the opposition of those who do not comprehend the implications of training in a true martial art. "Friends" resent your withdrawal from the occasional drinking party, and constantly advise you against your "odd" ways. Your new "square" attitude would seem awkward to them, and your company will be less appreciated unless you abide by the old status quo.

Discipline is a highly rejected term to those incapable of understanding it. Misery loves company, it has been said, and with great accuracy, since there is no better joy for a drinker that sharing his vice, and he is quick to avoid those who do not drink. However, he would feel offended if he is rejected because he drinks.

This paradox is a common one, but does not relate just to alcohol consumption. The same is true with drugs, bad habits, bad language, bad taste and even felony. As long as you join in, you are "normal", "smart", "fun", "cool", etc. If you oppose them, you become an absurdity and many will rush to your "help". If you reject that help, you are eventually rejected yourself.

The best reasons for avoiding mind-pollutants in the martial arts are far from being just a pious attitude, but nevertheless, that is how every student is perceived if he remains in the proper path.

However, the greater satisfaction of an aiki deshi is that once he has defined himself to be a true budoka, those who accept him are his true friends. Those who claim to know him would know who he is and accept and support his decisions. So, in itself, Budo becomes a test for those close to us, and those who claim to be close. But for us, the challenge is of a different nature.

The greatest challenge for an aiki deshi, or any budoka, is identifying the enemy. It takes a lot of courage to face our own shortcomings, but it is through the recognition of our faults that we have the possibility to improve. Budo, if it is real, is not something we add to our nature, but something that changes it, and develops our character and integrity. It is not a religion, since it works independently of our own faith, if our faith has the right roots. It is not a law, since to be real, it must be a part of us and not a forced set of rules. It does not have two different sides or two different codes of ethics according to circumstances or location. It is one nature, without duality.

We are the same anywhere we are. And it requires no effort and no analysis once we have trained hard enough, once we have been dedicated enough and understood enough of what Budo is all about. What words cannot describe, our own spirit perceives.

All that is required is that our will be in that path. And to start with: a decision followed by a clear view of where and who the "enemy" is. What follows is the hardest battle a budoka has to face. It is not a life or death situation, but a much more complex issue: one of life or life.

The enemies of a budoka are many, but the worst of them are deaf ears. The deaf ears of those who refuse advice and struggle against discipline. Not just physical discipline, but emotional and spiritual discipline. The second worse enemy is weakness, weakness of will and spirit. We could excuse them by reason of our humanity, but that would be a lame excuse. To err might be human, but to find excuses and failing to correct your errors at once is not a sign of humanity, but of stupidity. Hence, our worst enemy is not before us, but in us.

We are the ones who make the final decision when someone invites us to drink. It is we who decide to accept or not a marijuana joint or some other drug. But considering the choices and discarding the poor excuses (peer pressure, for example), there is another enemy: the hand which offers us the alcohol or the cigarette or the drug.

If we call "friend" someone who advises us to drink, smoke or do drugs, we should revise our definitions. It is certainly not a friend who can relate to us only if we lower our standards to his level. Idiocy is not any less dangerous if we share it with someone with whom we are familiar. True friendship does not erode our nature. Sharing vices is not fellowship, but degeneration and mutual denigration.

A true aiki deshi, a true Budoka, has no other alternative but to recognize that, so that he can effectively limit the reach of false friends into his life. The decision is hard because it is usually misunderstood, but there are no other choices if we claim to have a place in the dojo.

Some teachers shy away from pointing this out, since many students reject the idea of looking at their so-called friends in that light. Sadly, this usually leads to a degree of tolerance that produces poor students, and in turn, poor teachers. The art would not be far behind on its way down. The teacher can only instruct and suggest. It is up to the student to decide. But by that decision, however, they define themselves as true Budokas, or as hypocrites.

To identify the enemy is to have the first advantage. The method is simple. All that is needed is sincerity and the right priorities. Are the following your friends, or your enemies?

The weaknesses in ourselves that:

  • Separate us from our commitment to our ryu.
  • The individual who hands us the alcohol, the cigarette or the drug, asking us to "join" them.
  • The so-called friend who encourages us to betray our art, and is unwilling to respect our decision.

Do we have what it takes to identify them for what they are, and act accordingly?

For each of us, the circumstances and the approaches will be different. Our task is to identify them. An open attack is easy to detect. The most dangerous come at us in a friendly way, or worse yet, come as the result of our lack of true spirit, because these are the ones that are not as readily noticed.

Those who are indifferent to this advice, those who prefer to stick by the old ways and believe that they can tread both paths with immunity and success, are a shame to the ryu, a disappointment to their teachers, and a bitter waste of time for everyone involved. The hope of every teacher, who teaches true Budo, is for every student to understand these warnings, since the integrity of their future depends on it. True Budo/Bujutsu is not just the techniques, the rituals, the commands, or the training clothes, but the results of those teachings in our own lives. Our lives must reflect our choices, or we have accomplished nothing.

If those teachings are real in us, it will always show. If they are not, it will be just as obvious, sooner or later. Some bad students will read these words and ignore them, in that gloating indifference that always precedes failure. Some good ones will read them, understand them, and correct whatever error may be in themselves, at once, not tomorrow.

If these words, however, appear harsh or bitter, let's consider the alternatives. If they are more appealing, that in itself is a defining decision. Some day we may remember these warnings and regret that we did not hear them when there was still time.


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