View Full Version : Verbal Aikido?

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07-23-2002, 11:24 AM
i've heard this concept mentioned a few times with no specifics attached.

How do you apply Aikido in verbal discussion, or debate?

Is Aikido applied this way useful to any purpose beyond rhetoric?

Is it possible to practice Verbal Aikido?

07-23-2002, 12:32 PM
Let your opponent attack you with words and redirect them onto them with peace. Therefore using their own attack againdt them.

07-23-2002, 12:38 PM
Try searching for books by Suzette Haden Elgin on her "Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense."

-- Jun

07-23-2002, 01:22 PM
ok, I will, but does anyone have an example?

Doug Mathieu
07-23-2002, 01:27 PM
Hi Alfonso

You were wondering about some specific application of verbal aikido.

I have had this kind of discussion with Aikido friends and we have thought about this too.

I work for an Insurance comapny and am responsible for the business in a fairly large territory. There are times when I may be called to trouble shoot an issue. One of the hardest calls is from an Insured who is not getting their claim paid. Insurance like many industries dealing with money runs on paper and procedures. Often claim delays are caused by missing info and our attempts to gather it.

I apply verbal Aikido in such situations. I don't want to hurt the caller as they are our customer and chances are neither of us we are at fault. So when I get this angry call the 1st thing I do is center myself and stay calm. Then rather than lashing back at the caller, who often uses angry words, I sympathize with their frustration. This begins a redirecting effect of their attack. I get them calmed down and let them know I am on their side. I let them know I want their claim paid too and as quick as possible. This is the time where we are now moving in the same direction.

I then find out what they have done and if any issue are outstanding and help them understand the process. I then promise to assist them as best I can and follow up for them.

This is the final resolution of the call where they began by attacking me verbally and end up usually thanking me for caring and helping them out.

I think this is a very good analogy of the physical actions Aikido promotes and it helps me deliver good business service.

I hope this helps you.

Chuck Clark
07-23-2002, 02:38 PM
Energy is energy. Aiki principles apply 100 percent of the time. Learn the strategies of these principles and apply them. Become creative instead of reactive.

Find a teacher that lives the principles instead of just teaching techniques. Be patient and learn.


07-23-2002, 03:03 PM
Hi Alfonso!

I sent a private message your way.

Ya know, if I wanted stories, I'm pretty sure where I'd go in those parts. That is, if you have not already heard all of them, more than once. :)

07-23-2002, 08:38 PM
Yes, Mr. Chuck, Thats the way to answer this kind of questions. Definetively its deeply interesting and amazing in the results of using flowing, deflection, know how to circle people, use triangulation, to elevate the conversation, bring down to earth, bounce back

people energy and purpose and many many more.


07-24-2002, 08:36 AM
There is much to be learnd from Aikido. Verbal Aikido is a great idea.

I agree with Jun's suggest of Elgin's the Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense (actually, she has 3 books), also one called Verbal Judo.

I think of Aikido in flowing phases. First is the enter and blend, this is establishing rapport, looking at it from the other person point of view, and gathering information. Then redirect and unbalance, this is gently through questioning or indirect comments begin to shift the frame of reference. Next, throw or control, this is done by bring the point home and allowing them to discover for themselves that thier way doesn't work and that peace and love is a better choice. Finally, let go and move on, by avoiding judgements, punishment, pride, and ego allowing them to save face.

I find the study of verbal patterns such as Milton Erickson and Neurolinguistic Programing to be very much like Verbal Aikido. In fact in NLP they call it pace (enter and blend) and lead (redirect). Watch out for the slieght of mouth patterns.

Very interetsing thread. Compliments and appreciation.

Until again,


07-24-2002, 11:44 AM
What are other analogies/principles do you use when thinking of Verbal aikido?

I'm sorry to say I'm not familiar with any of the literature mentioned.. I hope to correct that sometime but in the meanwhile..

so far we have entering and blending, leading..

and Pretoriano adds elevating and descending (tenchi?)

can you classiffy discourse rhetoric as tecnhique?

do you see verbal Aikido practiced in this forum?

maybe we could play a game... :D

Bruce Baker
07-24-2002, 06:17 PM
Bounce? People do not bounce. When you hurt them and throw them they go splat!

Aikido thinking is not bounce, but to find another way that is as effective, but without the splat!

Sometimes it results in physical motion, sometimes it is the effect of words, controling emotions, and communication ... verbal Aikido.

It is nice to have the emotional morality and stability from Aikido training, but sometimes it is just as well to have an attention getter like physical Aikido so your verbal Aikido will be paid closer attention to.

When verbal Aikido fails, sometimes ikkyo or nikkyo at your best attentions getters as you use both physical Aikido and Verbal Aikido together to discuss your thoughts.

I have used it at least four times in the past two years, and indeed it does quelle the foul language. I wouldn't use it until you have exhausted remedying a situation with words.

In fact, we are all using Verbal Aikido to gain insight to physical or troubling thoughts by writing here on the Aikiweb?

Damn! Who woulda' thunk it?

08-23-2002, 05:46 PM
Check out Terry Dobson's book Aikido in everyday life. Also if you search under his name on the web you will be able to find his famous train story which is a good example.

:triangle: :square: :circle:

08-23-2002, 06:17 PM
Everyone loves this topic but often ideas are vague.

I would love to read those Gentle Art of... books. Hope to get one someday.. there is this one book I found, sort of an offspring of the Aikido-L list, called something like "Aikido methods for training and practice" or something. It has great appendices and there is one that is an excerpt from a paper that is really really great. A linguistic-type person has created a system that has concrete parallels with aikido. Too bad my library lost the book.

Anyway one basic idea it talked about was matching sensory modality with the attacker--if they say they don't "see" what you are talking about or something then you use terms like "look" and "see" also.. same goes for sound terms, etc. Then the article described some different ways of talking, analagous to direct linear movements, or softer movements, or slippery ukemi..

Lots of cool stuff that I obviously can't describe very well. Anyway the book has references for the full articles. I recommend the book and would love to get my hands on the person's papers on verbal aikido..

--Jonathan Wong

mike lee
08-25-2002, 04:25 AM
Check out Terry Dobson's book Aikido in everyday life. Also if you search under his name on the web you will be able to find his famous train story which is a good example.

If that's the same story I'm thinking of, I would truly appreciate it if AikiWeb could print it and keep it on file somewhere.

When I first began aikido, my teacher made that story required reading for all new students. Over the years, the root concept of that story has kept me out of a lot of trouble and has helped to keep my rather massive ego in check.

If I'm not mistaken, the story involves a young, strong American aikidoist in Japan. He's travelling home on a train and a large, drunk Japanese man starts making some trouble ...

Is that right?

mike lee
08-25-2002, 04:33 AM
I always admire people who can remain graceful in ungraceful circumstances. I'm still far from it.

08-25-2002, 10:57 AM
I've deleted the Terry Dobson story as it is still under copyright and I do not have the permission to reprint it here.

-- Jun

08-25-2002, 02:18 PM
Hi Alfonso,

I think is posibble talk with other people,inspired in Aikido's principles! ... rigorously is other art:

Sometimes in a discussion, for example when the other is angry, all that you can say could be heard like and aggression. In this case to argue don't work (flow) ¿How we can re-establish the harmony?

First, if you see the conversation don't flow, is time to make a change. Breathe.

Second, the other person wants to feel heard for you. Take this emotion and absorve. Her(his) center is her (his) concerns. Words

only give you an approach, but make contact with concerns can give you a whole view of the other position.

Then, if you ask "¿which are your concerns?" (technique one) with authentic mood to understand she/he (not necesary to be in agree), you can re-establish a mood to hold a dialogue.

Now, you can offer other point of view to consider and build an agreement.

¿Irimi nage?


08-25-2002, 07:06 PM

yes that is the one. Here is a link to the full story.

www.wattstapes.com/dobson.htm (http://www.wattstapes.com/dobson.htm)

I just noticed that this page is part of a site that sells audio cassettes. Mr Dobson has done 4 cassettes on conflict resolution has anybody ever listen to them ?
:triangle: :square: :circle:

Kevin Leavitt
08-25-2002, 08:19 PM
to sum it up in one sentence from my experiences....applying aikido in a verbal way...seek to understand before being understood.

I have found socratic questioning to be very helpful. Refrain from firing back your "rounds" at the person until you fully grasp his/her argument. Keep asking them to elaborate on certain points you do not agree with...it may take minutes, it may take hours, or even days.

Once you have a true grasp of the argument from their point of view, you will usually find that much of your disagreement is semantics, you probably really agree on some points, and you will get to the core or the center of the argument and then attack it at it's foundation.

I find aikido works the same way, recieve your uke's energy, understand it, blend with it, then return it.

08-25-2002, 08:46 PM
I have a quote but I can not remember it well so I am paraphrasing it. Sometimes someone who refuses to hear a shout will bend to hear a wispier.... This sounds like aiki to me.