Grow into reconciliation

Warning: New words (neologisms) were used during the creation of this post!

Did you ever get interested in the origins of words? If we take re-concile it clearly seems to refer to the repetition of something (the prefix ‘re‘) or doing something again. So what then would ‘concile’ mean? It’s origin ‘concilium’ in latin is an assembly or a gathering… so we can say at the very least that to reconcile is to ‘regather’ a group (or a couple) of people that had previously been gathered in some way. Yes – separated at some stage of course – but it’s important to recognize that they were initially gathered, or together. So reconciliation would be the process of bringing these people back together…

Do you believe that we are one? Part of a whole? Indeed when we search for differences we will find them, but we can choose to embrace these differences or not. We can remember or not what we have in common (which greatly exceeds our differences!). One of the major aspects of reconciling is merely focusing on these commonalities and differences in a constructive sequence.

In fact, just bringing two ‘unconciled’ or ‘disconciled’ parties physically together (in the same place) is literally reconciling them! Reconciliation Process smThen, when together, if they can retrace their common roots, explore their differences (needs, perspectives, motivations etc.)  and then genuinely and openly search for mutually beneficial directions… this group or couple will veritably be in a reconciling process.

When we become conscious of the choices available to us, we often observe that we can decide to enter or not into a conflict…It really does “take two…” because conflict is literally ‘striking together’, just like inflict is ‘striking into’ and afflict is ‘getting struck’.

The choices of both physical and Verbal Aikido enable us to embrace the strikes, explore directions, and transform them into pacified outcomes. In fact this Aikido approach/philosophy follows the same steps necessary for reconciliation – embrace, explore and ‘exflict’ (i.e. come out of striking). The philosophy throughout Aikido upholds the clear intentions of:

  1. Receiving the ‘strike’ without being in ‘conflict’ or striking together (i.e. seeing it as an invitation to dance – check out the Inner Smile)
  2. Understanding the direction of the ‘striker’ by following their movement (e.g. the Irimi  movement of ‘entering’ or bringing your center closer to the other’s)
  3. Leading or being implicated in bringing the outcome to a balanced or pacified state for all involved (see Aiki or ‘balanced energy’)

Just another way to Peace out 😉

LA

Interactive VA Seminar in Paris

Treat yourself to a unique opportunity to discover Verbal Aikido with Luke Archer, who developed this innovative communication style to manage verbal attacks, develop self-control and assertiveness.
In association with HBA (Healtcare Businesswomen’s Association), Parisians have the opportunity to attend the fortchoming event to be held on:

Thursday, May 28th from 6:30pm
at Pfizer Paris – 23-25 ​​rue Dr Lannelongue 75014 Paris
Access map
Entrance fee for non-members: 20 €
“Walk-in” registration available on-site or:
Register online

lukearcher

How to remember it every day…

Sure. You may find yourself upset or angry at something someone has said. Believe me, it happens to the best of us; but returning to your ‘center’ as quickly as you can after an upset, and acting from that balanced and serene position is an essential part of ‘Agatsu’ or self-victory. In order to help you learners and masters alike to stay conscious of your goal, you can now receive a gentle reminder of the Verbal Aikido principles that will accompany you at any time of the day, no matter where you are!

Bracelet

 

Stylish and discreet, each silicon wristband is green with subtle and unique white swirls, engraved with the words ‘Verbal Aikido – Masakatsu Agatsu‘ (meaning “True victory is self-victory“).

Available in both adult and ‘youth’ sizes (for slender wrists), get yours now for only €6.99 (+2€ postage and packaging to anywhere in the world).

We can all do with a gentle reminder from time to time!

Peace out, every day…

LA

 

Peacebuilding Workshop in Paris 23/24 January

If you’re interested in participating in a one- or two-day dynamic Verbal Aikido workshop in Päris on Friday the 23rd and/or Saturday the 24th of January, please let us know!

It will take place in Paris 11th district from 9:30 to 5:00 on both days.

Photo by L. Varechova 2014
Photo by L. Varechova 2014

You can participate for 220€ (one day) and an exclusive reduced rate of €350 if you’d like to attend both days. Reduced rates also available for students and joint (multiple) inscriptions.

Both days are open to beginners and advanced learners. Even if you have never had any contact with Aikido or any other martial art, you will feel comfortable discovering or rediscovering Verbal Aikido!

Contact us now for further information.

Peace out!

LA

 

 

Stepping on to the Verbal Mat – 1. Let’s warm up!

Why do you warm-up and stretch before an activity? Your answer to this question for a physical endeavour will be remarkably similar to that of the reasons why we practice verbal stretching in Verbal Aikido: elasticity, flexibility and injury prevention.

Well, the Verbal Aikido workshop in Geneva last Saturday saw the 2014 VAP (Verbal Aikido for Peace) Tour drawing to an end. Without a doubt I can say that one of the activities that participants from all over Europe wanted to do again and again was our verbal stretching! So for those who missed out on the tour this year, here’s a brief overview of how to get warmed up for your exchanges.

StretchJust like physical stretching, verbal stretching enables us to:

  • feel more supple and comfortable with our articulation(s)
  • avoid getting hurt when pushed or pulled in certain directions
  • fall more gracefully

Before starting this exercise in the Verbal Aikido workshops and classes, the guidelines for verbal stretching (called an ‘open attitude’ kamae) are explained to everyone as follows:

  1. Let go of the need to be right (about your definition of the word being “stretched”).
  2. Search with curiosity to increase one’s global understanding of the given word or phrase.
  3. Stay open to the perspective that words are always evolving.

Let’s take the word ‘flexibility’ and see where it could take us in a verbal stretching exercise. Pay attention to your own feelings about the answers given in this example:

A (Leading the exercise): “What does the word ‘flexible’ mean for you?”

B: “Emmm, adaptable I suppose, like someone who can go along easily with what other people are doing, without complaining.”

A: “OK, and for you what is positive about being flexible?”

B: “Well I see it as positive, I mean, you need to be flexible in life!”

A: “Why is that?”

B: “Because things change, and if you never adapt to the things that change, you’ll never… you won’t survive. I mean, especially in the business world.”

A: “What negative aspects can you see to being flexible?”

B: “Negative? I dunno, I suppose if you’re too flexible, people will walk all over you.”

A: “OK. What would be the opposite of flexible for you?”

B: “Rigid… is the first word that comes to mind.”

A: “Anything else?”

B: “Stuck in their ways, strict, never giving in…”

A: “And what is the opposite of that?”

B: “Always giving in I suppose.”

A: “What is the connection for you between ‘giving in’ and ‘being flexible’?”

B: “[***] Ummm, the connection between the two… letting go?”

Can you feel the stretch? In the course of this exchange, did you find yourself thinking “that’s right”, or “that’s not right” at any moment? If you did, you lost your ‘open attitude’ kamae (stance)! It’s not as easy as it sounds, and even after leading this sort of exercise hundreds of times, I still have to occasionally stop myself from anticipating a response or displaying facial gestures that may influence an answer. In the words of O-Sensei – “Cast off limiting thoughts and return to true emptiness. Stand in the midst of the great void”, or if you prefer: “Attachment to views is the greatest impediment to the spiritual path.” (Thích Nhat Hanh).

We really sense the variety and abundance in the definition of our words when the same word is stretched by subsequent participants. You may already have started to recognize how the techniques proposed for stretching can contribute greatly to all involved. Those who are simply listening have the opportunity to work on their open attitude kamae and develop Irimi by genuinely seeing from another’s perspective. Those who lead the stretching get to practice the ‘meaning prod’ technique, and develop their capacity to detect destabilization (indicated by ‘[***]’ at the end of the example above). Finally, the person being questioned can focus on stabilizing their Inner Smile in exchanges and expressing themselves with greater eloquence.

These benefits are most apparent when later, in the verbal sparring, a word that came up in the stretching is used, there’s almost a sigh of relief as people take on a word with which they are now particularly comfortable articulating. Above all, when we have extensively stretched a word with a negative connotation (criticism, insults, etc.) you can truly sense the ease and verbal flexibility with which the students manage their responses – preventing injury from both themselves and their partner.

Coming soon; Stepping on to the Verbal Mat – 2. The 3D Verbal Matrix

See more blog posts.

Check out our free resources and activities.

“Davies”: Your Daily Verbal Aikido Intention Exercises – Part 1.

How often are you actually aware of your intention? When you make a ‘to-do’ list or put something in your diary, you envisage a desired result for your actions, but the rest of the time, are you on automatic pilot or just reacting impulsively to whatever comes your way?

In the Verbal Aikido workshops we put great emphasis on developing deliberate intention in the exchanges. Students quickly see the power and difference between managing a verbal attack without, and then with a deliberately peaceful intention. So if you are engaging in verbal exchanges, remember to ‘insert’ your intention of harmony and balance with your partner before you start, and even if you don’t obtain this desired result externally (with your partner), you’ll find yourself closer to it internally (with yourself)!

So what is a ‘Daily Verbal Aikido Intention Exercise’?

As the (only slightly modified) acronym suggests, a ‘Davie’ is all about intention. It’s like using a muscle regularly – once you make even the smallest increase in deliberate intention in your daily life, your personal power increases exponentially. I’ll give you an easy first exercise below, but first… something to consider.

I had a friend who was learning English a few years ago. He made me smile when he told me that he was driving his wife crazy by putting post-its all over his house – ‘labelling’ in English every object he could, in order to increase his general vocabulary… everything from ‘nail’ to ‘fridge’! Crazy maybe, but it proved to be an exceptionally effective and easy way to stimulate his learning every day.

So this first ‘Davie’ you can try will stimulate your awareness of how often (or how rarely) you are actually acting with deliberate intention. Whether it’s with a few well-placed post-its, or on the wallpaper of your phone or PC, try this for a month and let me know how it goes:

Simply write the question “What is your intention (now/today)?” on a couple of post-its and place them at strategic and visible places at your home or office. For example, at eye-level on the inside of your front door (putting it on the outside may also get an interesting reaction from visitors!), on your fridge, on the handset of your phone at work, on a mirror you look in regularly, maybe the one you’re in front of when you’re brushing your teeth… I think you get the picture. For an even more powerful effect, write the question on a piece of paper and take a quick snapshot of it for your tablet or phone wallpaper etc.

Intention post-itYou may find some great answers to this question that help you throughout your day, or for a specific moment like a job interview, but the beauty of this exercise is that you don’t need to put pressure on yourself to have an answer every time you see it… just whenever it feels like it might be a good or helpful time. By the end of the month you’ll notice not only how you’re becoming increasingly aware of your intention, but also, your awareness of others’ intentions or lack thereof.

So let’s exercise those intention muscles and insert peace wherever and whenever we can!

L

 

Countdown promotion – save 65%

book coverJust a quick post to inform you that there will be a special promotion on the Verbal Aikido Green Belt Book (Kindle version) on Amazon.com & .co.uk from August 18 to August 22, 2014 (next Monday to Friday) . Both French and English versions of the book are included in this exceptional offer.

65% off Monday … 15% off Friday… Remember, you can also borrow this book for free at any time with Amazon Prime.

Peace out!
Luke

Breaking news – Aikido is not a martial art!

Of course, without thinking, most people will tell you that Aikido is a martial art, and it really is quite understandable that it got put into this category. If you’ve any interest in Roman mythology you’ll probably already know that a ‘martial’ art is de facto an art of war (from ‘Mars’ the god of war), and sure, both Aikido and Verbal Aikido help us deal with the ‘wars’ that people manifest both internally and externally. But I ask you: can this art, whose proclaimed intention is “to unify the world in love and harmony”, really be considered as ‘martial’?

Indeed, anyone who has gone just a little further than the mat, knows how much Aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba, insisted that “budo is love” and that Aikido was a means for people to live in harmony. Hmmm, there’s definitely something amiss here, because no matter how I look at it, I can’t seem to make the founder’s philosophy stick with any idea of war.

“So if it’s not a martial art, what is it then?”  I hear you, I hear you. Well, let me see now, what if, instead of categorising this art based on a god of war, we could find some sort of ‘god of love and harmony’, to be more in line with O-Sensei’s vision for Aikido…

Venus & MarsYou have undoubtedly heard of Venus, well just like Mars, before they became planets, they both started out their lives as gods. On the one side of Earth was war, and on the other side… yep, love.

So Venus was known as the goddess of love, and anything pertaining to Venus was ‘venusian’, hmm, I guess you see where this article is going now…

So will you? Will you help us promote Aikido, and Verbal Aikido as venusian arts instead of martial arts? It may take some time to catch on, but it’s hard to disagree that it makes more sense!

Peace out Venusian-style 😉

LA

Return of the Blogger

Hello again Aikidoists, Aikidokas and fellow peacebuilders.

After a momentary absence from the blogosphere, we’re back and with so much to give that I’m going to have to break it up into a few posts to cover everything! This first one will give you an update on the VAP (Verbal Aikido for Peace) Tour and give you an idea of what you can expect in the coming months, so without further ado…

You may have noticed that much of the VAP Tour has been postponed till next year due to an unfortunate lack of funding. The positive side is that it wasn’t due to a lack of demand! Indeed we have had requests to give Verbal Aikido seminars and workshops from literally all over the world, from San Francisco to Fiji, from the Netherlands to Nigeria.

bear coming home

Thanfully we are able to maintain the European leg of the Tour. This coming September and October, we will be in Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and of course various locations in France. Our kick off at the Aiki-Extensions’ Pushing for Peace seminar near Cambridge (UK) at the beginning of July, had a very encouraging and positive reaction. Here’s a review of the workshop that is sure to make you smile from writer and fellow Aikidoka, 4th dan Richard Small

“Luke Archer, an Irishman from France, taught us about Verbal Aikido. How rarely we might be physically attacked and yet how frequently verbally attacked in life . . . yet we only train hard for the physical. With a few tips from Luke, neutralising insults, bullying and rudeness became an interesting, successful and relaxing ‘game’.

‘That’s rubbish’, I hear you say . . .  Well, I’m interested in your comment, what exactly do you mean by ‘rubbish’, what other things do you consider ‘rubbish’ . . .  let’s have a coffee together and you can tell me more . . .

I have to say that I wasn’t too good at it but now have a copy of his book to help me on my way.”

If you are interested, feel free to suggest locations for Verbal Aikido to come to you and we’ll do our utmost to make it happen in 2015! Okay then, so now onto what’s coming up next…

Very soon, you can expect to be bombarded with posts. This is because the second volume of the Verbal Aikido book series (Orange Belt) is currently being edited and revised (and revised and revised) – you should see it in selected bookshops and on Amazon before Christmas, inchallah. So brace yourselves for what is to come:

And if that’s not enough to keep you busy until September, you’ll soon be able to try the Virtual Dojo beta too…