Zen story:One evening the monk Shichiri Kojun was in his room reciting sutras when a thief broke in demanding money.  Shichiri said, "Do not disturb me.  There is money in that box" and continued to chant.  The thief took the money and was about to leave when Shichiri called out, "You should say 'thank you' when you receive a gift."  The thief bowed and thanked him.

Days later the thief was caught burglarizing another house and confessed to a string of robberies including the one to Shichiri.  The authorities brought him to Shichiri who promptly said, "This man is no thief.  I gave him some money and he said, 'thank you.'''

The thief was so impressed that when he was released from prison he became Shichiri Kojun's disciple. 

This Zen story illustrates why the Aikido techniques are structured the way they are.  As martial artists, we could destroy our enemies, but in learning we come to understand the ignorance of man.  Because they are ignorant they deserve compassion and not destruction.  We could hurt them but in the process we would only be hurting ourselves just as others are as when they try and hurt us.

Recently I read an article about a guy who doesn't study Aikido but applied the principles to his would be mugger.   Julio Diaz was held up at knife point by a young man in the subway who demanded his wallet.  Julio gave him his wallet but then as the teen turned to walk away he offered him his coat saying, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."  This gesture of kindness threw the teen for a loop and he asked him, "Why are you doing this?"  Julio replied, "If you're willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me ... hey, you're more than welcome."  He then took the teenager to dinner but when the bill came he said, "Look, I guess you're going to have to pay for this bill cause you have my money and I can't pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I'll gladly treat you."  The teen gave back the wallet.  Julio paid for dinner and gave the teen $20 but in return for the knife which the teen freely gave up.

Julio Diaz and the Shichiri Kojun saw the bigger picture with their would-be assailants.  The bigger picture is that every person is suffering.  The Dalai Lama said, "If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them."  O Sensei understood this and thus created Aikido.  To harm others is to harm ourselves.  When we realize this then we can see the suffering of others and hopefully realize the suffering within ourselves.  If we can give ourselves compassion then we can give others compassion too and perhaps make the world a better place.

You can listen or read Julio Diaz's full story here: http://www.npr.org/2008/03/28/89164759/a-victim-treats-his-mugger-right