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Learning to Kill

Hissatsu Waza. Noun:

  1. killer technique; surefire assassination method
  2. special or lethal move, usu. one unique to a certain fighter or fighting style

In all of the years that I have been studying martial arts, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard teachers and practitioners alike tell me that their martial way is for protecting yourself and others: how they practice never to injure but only to stun, how they blend with the opponent and then control them. Only my teacher Yoshioka Sadao Sensei taught us that in order to attain the highest level of martial practice—that is, when the martial art of Aikido becomes what the Founder Ueshiba Morihei termed “Love”—you must practice to kill.

Practice to kill? You’ve got to be kidding, I thought! Martial Ways, as they are practiced today in the modern world, are not for killing…are they? I thought that we were beyond that. After all, this is not feudal Japan (or Korea or China), we are not in the habit of carrying swords, staffs or any other weapon on a daily basis just to protect our well being.

Yoshioka Sensei stressed to us that it was absolutely no use in professing that you practiced to protect other people…if you couldn’t actually protect them. It was a waste of time to say that you could only stun others, not kill, if you didn’t have the skill to do so. The only techniques with true meaning were those that had the potency to actually end the life of another, but then stopped short of doing so.

It takes a great deal of practice and fantastic dedication to practice so thoroughly that your techniques are able to take life. The ideal then is to get to this level but never actually have to, want to or need to use it. If you don’t have the ability to generate the power or technique needed to end life though, what’s the use in talking about controlling yourself anyway, it’s all really just idle talk.

hissatsu waza
hissatsu waza

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