“Oh, so Aikido is purely a self-defense martial art.” people usually say when explaining Aikido to them. They then move on from it during the conversation to their childhood story of training Kempo for two years when they were ten years old, dismissing Aikido as a mamby-pamby martial art. Happens all the time. Thing is, I often agree with them that Aikido is, in fact, a purely defensive martial art. I was thinking of this the other day and realized how much this discounts the art. “Aikido as self-defense” is misleading. In Aikido, we don’t look at the world as something to defend ourselves from. We look at the world as something to change, wherein the first, if not the only, place to change it is with ourselves. We meet the energy and change it into something else, hopefully more positive and creative. No true Aikidoists play the victim card that I’ve ever met, and I guarantee you that O’Sensei didn’t. To be able to look at violence with soft eyes and transcend it is not for the weak. Merely looking for self-defense against a big, bad bully can be achieved by a weekend class at the YMCA. To be able to smile at the man coming in to take your life and protect him as he falls rendering his attack laughable takes a warrior.