Aikido is a two-fold way. And the folds, as befit their natures, lie opposite one another. I have come to the conclusion that Aikido was purposely developed around the idea of life and death being in constant juxtaposition, each in its own way tempting me with choices as I train.
With each attack I execute I can choose to come down on the side of death and deliver a blow that will injure or kill; an attack that has behind it the willful intent to do harm. I can also choose to come down on the side of life and deliver an attack that presents my partner with a gift; of energy, of commitment, the gift of my body as an instrument for my partner to use as a sounding board for the furtherance of his or her learning.
As nage I am presented with the same choices. Am I going to crush my partner into the mat beyond his or her ability to safely take the ukemi? Will I crank that nikkyo past the point that distinguishes pain from injury? Or will I seek to mitigate my response such that enough will be enough and my partner will be able to arise and attack again?
Each and every time I get on the mat I have to choose anew. Despite my mood, the events of my day, perceived rights and wrongs done to me or by me, I must still make that choice over and over again with every attack, every throw. With continued training I am learning how to thread my way along the seam where life and death meet and to favor neither one or the other; realizing rather that responses to situations contain varying elements of both.