View Full Version : Verbal Aikido

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02-22-2017, 07:45 AM
I am sure we have all heard the term verbal judo; there have even been books written about it from what I understand. Sounds nice, and makes sense in terms of how we should deal with a verbal attack (i.e., the way to best respond to ensure a conversation or argument does not escalate into the realm of the physical). There are also less intense situations where this practice would be of benefit, for example, at home or at work where conversations can easily become heated arguments.

While I have not studied Judo I understand it to be an effective way to immobilize an attacker to the ground physically and forcefully. I assume (apologies if incorrectly) that Judo is less concerned with inflicting undue pain or injury as from what I can see in Judo practitioners stay on the line and meet force with force until an opening to use the opponents force is visible. In Aikido we do not do this; in Aikido we immediately get off the line and redirect the intention.

Aikido teaches us that we have a moral and ethical responsibility to do no harm where possible. Considering a strictly verbal situation, which is the start of any altercation really, we know that words can be damaging; sometimes even more damaging than a punch. Our bodies can heal quickly from physical injury, but the lasting effects of verbal attacks on our psyche can take longer to heal from.

That said, wouldn't 'verbal aikido' be a more appropriate term then?

When conversing with others do you use principles we learn to redirect statements that may have the intention of getting you worked up? Or, if the intent to do so by the other person is not there, do you find yourself consciously doing a mental tenkan 'off the line' so as not to interpret the statement out of context as a personal attack?

While I have been in very few physical altercations in my life, one thing I know I can work on is how I respond to people verbally in stressful situations. I see it, I recognize it, but it is difficult to master this aspect completely.

How about you?

02-22-2017, 08:29 AM
That said, wouldn't 'verbal aikido' be a more appropriate term then?

I think it depends entirely on what your intention is. Aikido training, if you're doing it right, can teach you an even "softer" skill, that of seeing more options and alternatives in a situation. I choose not to say "redirection" or "getting off the line" because even that, as open-ended as it sounds, is still a bit constrained. The essence of "verbal aikido", to me, means first and foremost perceiving what options exist in the situation, not any particular response or action.

Demetrio Cereijo
02-22-2017, 09:03 AM
I think "verbal aikido" would be the art of mixing passive-aggressive statements with new age truisms until the attacker recognizes the error of his ways.

It could work.

02-22-2017, 11:22 AM
I think there was a thread on this recently?

For a book, "Aikido in everyday life: Giving in to get your way" was co-authored by Terry Dobson. It reads like many other psychology-for-public-consumption books.

Otherwise, talk to any cop or soldier or security guard or prison guard. Most of their training on the force continuum starts with controlling the environment and verbal interventions. Keeping the peace of course starts with much less than physical violence. Hostage negotiators would be a good example, but of course the sharpshooters are deployed as well. Professionals are expected to be ready for the rest of the force continuum despite where they start.

I do not know how to teach it, and at work while someone has some "service recovery" class running all the time, I just do what I do. I have the hair stand up on the back of my neck every time I hear someone speaking tactically, "I hear you say that you feel that...". I tell students I orient, "Step one, give a crap. Care about the outcome, you'll have a better outcome."

"Shoot first, ask questions later" is a criticism of professionals who respond to violence, the world expects better of them. We never teach this in the dojo; we talk all-or-nothing and I think that weakens Aikido's potential.

02-22-2017, 04:02 PM
I wrote about this a while back
I'll try to find the article and send it to you.
Cites some of the sources you referenced.

02-22-2017, 08:38 PM
Thanks Lynn!

02-22-2017, 11:27 PM
Very interesting topic. Based on my personal experiences I haven't really practiced "verbal aikido" nor have I incorporated the principles of Aikido(such as redirecting or ignoring the verbal attack) in the way I speak with others. I guess this is because I'm still new to the martial art and the fact that I'm still easily provoked by others. But its a very interesting concept that I will take into account in my Aikido training as words might help me prevent a fight from happening in the future.

02-26-2017, 06:18 AM
Thanks for the book reference Rug.