High Castle Aikido

The very first moment we’re introduced to the heroine of The Man in the High Castle, she’s deflecting attack after attack against a fellow Aikido student on some very thick martial arts mats. When the attacker gets up the last time, the instructor tells him that only his ego is bruised. Gonna be a great show.

However, the next time we see her using her tremendous skill, it’s not on a practice martial arts mat with lots of protection in a safe setting, it’s on top of a dam, defending herself from a killer. She’s unprepared, scared out of her wits, out of her element, so what does she do? Uses her defensive skills to launch him over the edge of the dam down a thousand foot drop reminiscent of the one in which Sherlock Holmes disappeared. Wait – that’s not so defensive, is it?

She collapses and weeps – why? Because the fear has overwhelmed her or because she betrayed her Aikido training? We’d like to think its the latter, because the beautiful art of Aikido truly is defensive, using an attacker’s strength against him, not to kill, but to successfully defend. But as the show demonstrates, it’s an easy thing to do in a practice studio on some safe, thick martial arts practice mats, but entirely another to use the art in a true moment of need. Perhaps she was not the superior student portrayed in the first scene after all.

Studying a martial art is a noble venture, but as the Man in the High Castle exposes, it isn’t always second nature to remember and execute in unsafe circumstances. That’s why years – unending years – of practice are required. Yes, begin in a studio, with an instructor, on some safe, protective martial arts mats, but never think you’re prepared to go it alone. Even the best martial artists still study and practice on a daily basis with someone who can still teach them new things.