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More Thoughts On Dialogue…Aikido

In the Indian tradition of Anekantavada, the doctrine of non-absolutism, there are three ways to have a dialogue : ‘vaad’ or a discussion, which seeks to understand the opponent’s point of view and explain one’s own in order to reach the truth; ‘vivaad’ or an argument, which seeks to impose one’s own point of view over that of the other; and the third, ‘vitandavaad’, which merely seeks to bulldoze the other person’s views, without really offering any alternative thought.

Truth is universal if not absolute.  Aikido is a martial art founded in the early 1900’s by a Japanese man, Morihei Ueshiba, who wanted to teach a way for people to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury. To control the aggression of an attacker with caring and without inflicting harm.

I am reminded that about 30 years ago, at a mind/body conference, I took part in an Aikido workshop led by George Leonard (for further study read “Education and Ecstasy, The Ultimate Athlete (which deals at length with aikido) and The Silent Pulse.) A 3rd dan Aikikai practitioner, Leonard was a particularly charismatic practitioner and my experience with him would have a profound effect on me for the rest of my life.

Wikipedia:  <em>The word “aikido” is formed of three kanji:

* 合 – ai – joining, unifying, harmonizing
* 気 – ki – spirit, life energy
* 道 – dō – way, path

Aikido is often translated as “the Way of unifying (with) life energy”[1] or as “the Way of harmonious spirit.”[2]

Aikido is performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on. This requires very little physical energy, as the aikidōka (aikido practitioner) “leads” the attacker’s momentum using entering and turning movements.</em>


<em>One applies aiki by understanding the rhythm and intent of the attacker to find the optimal position and timing to apply a counter-technique. Historically, aiki was mastered for the purpose of killing; however in aikido one seeks to control an aggressor without causing harm.[2] The founder of aikido declared: “To control aggression without inflicting injury is the Art of Peace.”[6] A number of aikido practitioners interpret aikido metaphorically, seeing parallels between aikido techniques and other methods for conflict resolution.</em>

Now I don’t propose we all become control freaks and walk around in a defensive posture (which sometimes invites attack) but there was something particularly powerful in being taught this “attitude” using both a mind and body analogy.

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6 responses to “More Thoughts On Dialogue…Aikido”

  1. Eunice (Zoe) says:


    Yes, we hope you never have to have that experience again in your lifetime!

    Thank you so much for inspiring me to keep on keeping on! And you are quite cool too! :)) You keep on too!

  2. Michelle Engelman Berns says:

    OMG Thank you for your response!

    This amazing world, and all in it….. I appreciate beyond measure the fact that you do use your life and words and travels to express something that is of a beautiful nature, even frustrations are spun in the light of learning. And the light of my understanding of aikido did help, and the sad nature of people who use force to overpower and to end the lifespirit of another is one I hope not to encounter again in my lifetime.
    Travel on wayward nomad, laughing and breathing life into the intuitive navigation of these here Internets…I think you are wonderful and quite cool.

  3. Eunice (Zoe) says:

    OMG, Michelle! I can’t imagine having to testify in a trial like that!

    Thank you so much for your kind words! It reminds me that there is so much responsibility that comes with posting publicly. However in this case, thankfully, I have had a positive and uplifting effect in reminding you of your previous experience with aikido and what it offers us and the world. And I pray that it will help you as you enter that court room.

    Big Hugs

  4. Michelle Engelman Berns says:

    I stumbled upon your life, here on the internet…searching ‘Bing’ for a quirky quote on “the New Yourk Way”…. You see, I am getting ready to testify in a trial, my landlord was murdered and although she lived in Texas, she was proud of her New York heritage, her efficient and matter-of-fact demeanor.
    I want to tell you, “out of the blue” that your words are like a the sun peeking through the clouds after weeks of cold rain, then slowly warming the face, the hands….until the mind begins to think warmer thoughts of better days to come. I am mesmerized by your travels, I took my first overseas trip 10 years ago to Ireland with my kids ( then 8 and 10), then France last year and soon to South America where my husband has a contract working on a helicopter. As a painter and a writer and a Mother with 4 children out of the nest….I want to thank you for heeding the call of your friend to ping back to us, the pulse of the world you encounter. I took Aikido years ago before a back injury from a car wreck prevented me to continue, and it molded my perception of the world, and makes me breathe easier to this day. I will use this rememberance of that energy today, as I testify that just because a person is direct and opionated, doesn’t mean they have to be a threat….and I will move on with my day, happy to have read your writings, and thankful that you have written them, (it seems for me alone today to take with me).

    Warmest regard

  5. Eunice (Zoe) says:

    Hi Vivienne,

    I don’t know when I would ever get to England or Spain but you never know! I have two sons in Asia so trips are usually made there.

    But you are certainly welcome to visit me in Oaxaca next fall!

    Keep in touch,


  6. Vivienne Steels says:

    Hello Eunice,

    Recently when I was staying with a friend, Doti, in California we visited Cindy and Jim. (Jim is Doti’s late husband’s brother). We stayed three nights and had a really great time, exchanging stories and visiting some of the beautiful places along the Oregon coast.

    I told Cindy and Jim of my hopes to visit Mexico next September. I have tentatively arranged a house exchange to Ajicio, just south of Guadalajarra for three weeks and am hoping to extend this for a little longer. As soon as I mentioned Oxacao as one of the places I should love to visit Cindy insisted on giving me your e-mail address as she thought that you may be interested in helping me.

    I have done house exchange holidays since 1966, firstly with my husband and since he died (in 2004,) by myself. Doti and Ed exchanged with us in 1996, (for three months!) and that is how we met and became good friends. In 2008 I arranged “back to back” exchanges in Tasmania for 6 weeks and had a marvellous time as the walks in that island are magnificent, and that is what I really enjoy.

    I live in SW England and have a house in SE Spain, where I escape the English winters! I love having guests and am equally happy for visitors to stay in my house if they prefer that – I can easily move out to stay with my children. So if you are interested in any sort of exchange visit I should love to hear from you.

    Please excuse my writing to you “out of the blue”.

    Best wishes,

    Vivienne (Steels)

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