I've read a bit about verbal aikido, both here and elsewhere, and have recently found myself sometimes analyzing conversations for their potential aikido-ness. Well, the other day my wife picked up the phone only to find a telemarketer on the other end. Whereas I would have cut the person off quick she calmly listened to his whole speil, ever polite. Then at the end she expressed her lack of interest in said product/service and ended the conversation with a cheerful "But I appreciate the call!"
I, with my newfound aikido listening skills, instantly pounced on her with glee, asking eagerly if she'd ever heard of verbal aikido (she is the same rank as I am, humble 5th kyu). She gave me a confused look and asked what that was. I proceeded to outline my poor vision of what verbal aikido was, going so far as to say that an aggressive verbal redirection might be thought of as irimi, while a tenkan might be a "Well, I'm sorry you feel that way" kind of a deal.
Without batting an eye she reasoned, "So if I wanted to throw an atemi in there it would be 'Bitch! Sorry you feel that way.'"
What can you say to that?
To me this sound as if your wife did some verbal tenkan movement... Here is a very similar story, more on the irimi side.
My father, who knows only a little bit about aikido, once picked up the phone to find someone from an insurance company on the other end. He told this person very politely that he wasn't interested but the other one still tried to convince my father to buy this insurance, that it was worth the money and wouldn't take too much time to get the contract, etc. My father, still very polite, answered that this guy was already wasting my fathers precious time and since he charged by the hour, wanted to know his name and location of the insurance company to send them a bill. The man was taken by surprise and gave his name and company. My father thanked him and ended the conversation. We had a good laugh imaginating this poor guy...
Obviously the man who did the call had "confessed" immediately while still in panic wondering what kind of bill would arrive because of his mistake of telling his name...
because next evening the phone rang again - it was the boss of the company who apologized for the incident and that my father would never be bothered again...
I'm very impressed with the calm your wife demonstrated in this story. I used to train in Shotokan Karate (I still do, but only irrugularly) for about 5 years, and in the course of my training, a lot of emphasis was given to the destructive power that a correctly-executed technique could generate. I found that I was more self-confident after my training, but also that I was more confrontational. I have now been studying Iwama-ryu Aikido for about two years under a very relaxed Sensei in a fun, respectful Dojo. I have found that, as both O-Sensei and my own Sensei have said, Aikido is not there to teach us to fight, but to teach us to be harmonious. My Sensei illustrated this point with a story about a confrontation with a drunk man and his friends. My Sensei and his own instructor were sitting in a restaurant when they were getting heckled by a drunk. My Sensei asked the guy to leave them alone to enjoy their meal, and the guy pulled a knife. Although he was not close enough to strike, my Sensei was sat down, and thus could not rise quickly. He told me that instead of trying to rise and fight, he simply began to chat to the guy, who eventually sat down with them and shared a meal and drinks. I asked Sensei whether hew was merely trying to lure the guy in close and then pow! He just looked at me and sighed. That verbal response in itself was more effective than a yokomenuchi to the head.
There is a good book out by George J. Thompson called Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion. It is written by a former policeman and black belt in Judo. It describes a lot of what you talk about.
I used to be a Security Guard and it helped me tremendously in dealing with difficult people. It is very big on not meeting your opponents force with force (i.e. threats with more threats) and is therefore very aikido-esque.
Scott in Kansas
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