Category Archives: Non classé

Verbal Aikido and Nonviolent Communication…

I often get asked “What’s the difference between NVC and Verbal Aikido?” Well the short answer is that it’s like the difference between a hammer and a screw-driver: they’re both tools that do similar things but in different ways.

From my own experience with both of these communication tools, there have been times where I’ve recognized it was more appropriate to use one or the other. Essentially I’ve found that NVC works best when dealing with one’s own imbalance or unpleasant feelings, i.e. when I felt that there was some aggressiveness or discomfort within me. Verbal Aikido, on the other hand, is much more efficient in dealing with the aggressiveness or discomfort coming from someone else.

To give you a practical example, NVC would work well if you feel upset because someone is trying to manipulate you… You might say “Hey, when I feel manipulated I get frustrated and I need to feel that I have a choice and that my choice will be respected.” The objective here is to decrease the likelihood of others hearing blame or criticism in the words you use with them, thus avoiding a conflictual situation or escalation.

Verbal Aikido works well when managing someone who might accuse you of manipulation:
“You’re just a manipulator!”
“What makes you say that?”
“You’re trying to get your own way!”
“And what do you believe my intentions to be?”

The objective here is, of course, to avoid a conflictual situation or escalation too, but it is done by focusing externally rather than internally. Indeed there is much in common between Verbal Aikido and Nonviolent communication, because both focus on understanding the source of discomfort, both use empathy to connect with the other and both aim at creating peaceful exchanges and reinforcing relationships. If you’re still wondering which is better, can you really put a hammer and a screwdriver in competition?

hammer screwdriverPersonally I find both tools complementary, one more proficient in dealing with what I want to express, and the other in dealing with what someone else is expressing. However for Verbal Aikido to be truly effective it isn’t necessary for both people to be receptive and practice it, whereas I’ve found that NVC is really most effective when both are trained and open to using it. It really is best to have both tools in your toolbox; you never know which will be most appropriate to hang up your picture!

Nonviolent communication  Verbal Aikido

Uses empathy and sincerity



Develops self-mastery



Creates peaceful environments Kliponious-green-tick Kliponious-green-tick
Helps me express my negativity Kliponious-green-tick
Helps manage my inner-criticism Kliponious-green-tick Kliponious-green-tick
Starts by reflecting on one’s own feelings Kliponious-green-tick
Starts by reflecting on other’s feelings Kliponious-green-tick
Main focus on one’s own expression Kliponious-green-tick
Main focus on active listening Kliponious-green-tick
Equally efficient in unilateral use Kliponious-green-tick
Rapidly manages verbal attacks Kliponious-green-tick
Develops compassion and understanding Kliponious-green-tick Kliponious-green-tick

Peace out


Verbal Aikido – Orange Belt has arrived!

Even if you haven’t read Volume 1 (Green Belt), the latest Verbal Aikido handbook is specifically designed so you can jump right in, and explore this practical and peaceful approach to dealing with:

  • Front Cover framed - small Orange beltpeople who always want to be ‘right’,
  • passive aggressive behaviour,
  • persistent attackers,
  • your own ‘inner’ attacks,
  • multiple attackers,
  • energy vampires,
  • verbal humiliation…


Richard Small sensei, 4th dan aikidoka comments:

How would it feel if, in the middle of chaos and conflict, you could at will find inner peace? It is yours for the finding. With open heart and mind please read this book; indeed it is far more than a book, it is a light shining brightly upon the path ahead and guiding your own learning to a better, happier place.

If you’re not yet able to get delivered by Amazon (US, UK, France), just contact us and we’ll make sure a copy gets to you safely. The Kindle version is also available  in print replica format for all Kindle fire tablets and reading apps – just type ‘Verbal Aikido Orange’ into your Amazon search.

Looking forward to hearing your own views soon!

Verbal Aikido @ Schools

In September 2014 we were asked to come to the Paul Portier High School in the Champagne region to teach Verbal Aikido to the students and teachers.
It was the beginning of Verbal Aikido @ Schools Project…

If you would like your school or organization to benefit from Verbal Aikido training, please contact us.

If you’d like to Discover More first… that’s fine too!

Pour découvrir en version française, cliquez ici.

Creating personal victories

A few years ago I got a boardgame for my son. The game involves moving your counter around a board in search of the objects depicted on the cards dealt to you. But when it came to explaining the rules to my son and a friend of his, I decided to make up some house rules of my own. In fact, I did this because I knew my son’s friend often got very upset, declaring “it’s not fair” any time we played something and things didn’t go his way. So, all the time pretending to be reading from the official text, I explained that we weren’t allowed to proclaim that something wasn’t fair. It was in the rules after all!

As they seemed to gladly go along with that one, I added another. You could, of course, win by being the first to get through all your cards, but you could also win by making up a great story using all the items on your cards, which inevitably produced quite a few draws!

imagesSurprisingly enough, even though they both copped on a few years later that I had been “creative”, we continued to play by the house rules. No-one ever complained during the games and the stories got better and better.

The truth is, no matter what rules you perceive around you, you always have the choice to make up your own rules and play by them. In fact, there’s most likely some area that you’re doing it already. Whether it’s finding a parking space close to your destination, identifying a song sooner than anyone else, having the most fashionable outfit, drinking the most beers at a party, cleaning something a certain way or whatever else; there’s something that you do that you consider to be a ‘personal win’, and you feel good when you do it.

True victory
“Masakatsu Agatsu” Morihei Ueshiba

For some, well for quite a few people in fact, proving someone wrong is one of these personal victories. You will recognize these people and, as O-Sensei says “Be grateful even for hardship, setbacks and bad people. Dealing with such obstacles is an essential part of training in the Art of Peace”. So in relation to these occurrences, and on your path to self-mastery, the sort of self-victories that you can grant yourself (especially when you know a difficulty is coming) could be something on the lines of the following:

  • Come back to a centered place in less than 10 minutes after getting upset.
  • Come back to a centered place in less than 30 seconds after getting upset.
  • Keep your voice at an acceptable volume level
  • Remind yourself of your intentions three times
  • Suspend your point of view for one minute and actively listen
  • Discover something you didn’t know about the other
  • Discover something you didn’t know about the yourself
  • Make the other smile
  • Reach an Ai-ki
  • Maintain enough Inner Smile to not need anything else

So why not make self-victory something tangible and create your very own Aikidolympics today? Add your own challenges; compete in your own personal biathlon, pentathlon or decathlon; award yourself bronze, silver and gold for succeeding in whichever ‘events’ you choose!  Let’s finish with some words from O-Sensei to keep us on track…

Set in motion
The power of the universe
By wielding Aiki:
Create a beautiful world
And foster peacefulness.

If you’re not right… are you wrong? (Open attitude)

I was chatting with a colleague recently who was telling me about his wife who “loves to be right”. I remember wondering “Well, who loves to be wrong?” Indeed everybody needs to feel right about certain things in order to construct a life with any degree of stability, but in instances of conflict transformation, holding on to what we feel to be the only truth has an annoying way of making matters escalate.

If you stand in opposition or in resistance to another person’s point of view, the chances of reaching any sort of efficient outcome (balanced or not) are of course greatly compromised. Compare how long, on average, a boxing combat takes to the time an exchange in aikido takes; compare how much effort is used and how much pain is endured on both sides… Now ask yourself: do you stick to your guns and fight your corner when someone’s point of view differs from yours? Well rest assured, there is something quite simple that will help take you out of that verbal boxing match and into an exchange that greatly reduces your effort, pain and even just the time you put into it!

In fact, your initial stance plays a greater role than you can imagine, both physically and verbally. In aikido, the physical stance or kamae, enables you to receive and blend with your attacker. There are different kamae; kneeling, standing, left-oriented, right-oriented, etc., but whatever your stance, it is key that you find a centred and balanced position that gives you enough flexibility to let the energy flow (ki-no nagare) and manage whatever comes at you.

In Verbal Aikido, we call this kamae ‘open attitude’. Indeed even in physical aikido, our kamae pertains to much more than just how one’s body is positioned; it concerns an overall comportment too. open attitudeWhen dealing with verbal conflict, you have an edge over any attacker when you begin from this open-attitude stance, being able to let go, if only momentarily, of what you believe to be right or wrong, and to replace it with a humble and sincere curiosity to discover more, about yourself or someone else. Indeed, a certain naïve openness is required to learn anything, for the simple reason that cynicism puts up barriers that prevent us from accepting any new information.

A couple of years ago I was walking to the mall with my son and to my surprise I realized that he hadn’t told me the truth about something. It was rather insignificant but my parenting role still seemed to dictate that I warn him of the consequences of lying, so I briefly rehashed a version of the ‘Peter & the wolf’ story. Now my son Seán, who was 11 at the time, had already become quite experienced at using Irimi

“Ok but what is lying?” he asked with a little smile budding on the corners of his lips. I decided to entertain the question and see where it would go.
“Well, it’s when you decide to mislead someone or to not tell the truth.”
“What is the truth?”
[***] Good question young padawan. Well, if you know in your heart that you’re not trying to mislead someone, then you’re on the right track!”
“Yeah, but how do I know something is really true?”
“An absolute truth?”

For the next 15 minutes I challenged Seán to find something that was always true. In every case I found an exception. When he said “That’s easy: 1 + 1 = 2”, I replied “Well, in maths that’s true… but what about if you put one male and one female together for long enough, your 1 + 1 could become 3… or more!” When he put forward that “Everyone closes their eyes when they sleep”, I asked “What about the guy who lost his eyelids when his face was burnt?” Now this did get frustrating, and sometimes a little gory, but the point was not to prove him wrong, just to explore the limits of what we believe to be ‘universally true’. Finally his frustration got the better of him and he blurted out “OK so you tell me, what’s true then?” I smiled as I replied “For me, the only real truth is how we feel in a given moment, and right now, I love you – that’s an absolute truth. Your truth is how you feel, and no-one can take that away from you” [- – -]. His wide grin told me that we had found the Ai-ki in that discussion.

As it happened, a short while later, we were watching a science documentary which explained that, right now, the most advanced and widely-accepted theory in astrophysics concerning the content of the universe is that over two thirds of it is made up of ‘dark energy’, more than a quarter consists of ‘dark matter’ (the ‘dark’ here meaning simply that it remains ‘unseen’ by our senses), and what’s left – about 5% – is what we can actually perceive. “Wow,” he whispered to me, “we really know nothing!”

Well, at least we know that we know nothing! So with our greatest scientists’ humble estimation that we can only fathom one twentieth of what we think exists – how can we believe that any theory or belief can give us the full picture? Indeed our understanding and knowledge will never be complete, all we can hope to do is continue to enjoy discovering new ideas, techniques and points of view… which is exactly the sort of opportunity that can arise when someone’s preconceived ideas about what is right, wrong, true or false are challenged – and when we meet it with that open-attitude kamae!

In the end, it can help and even accelerate our learning potential to see things without having an attribute of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, or at least to suspend this sort of judgment momentarily. Rather, there is only ‘our evolving reality’, and the only absolute truth is how we feel at a given point in time. Indeed, on the enriching quest to understand another person’s truth you may even catch a glimpse of your own!

Check out how to use this open attitude on the ‘virtual mat’ with Verbal Stretching

Discover our free resources and activities.

Find out Your Conflict Management Style(s) with our new free online quiz

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 😉


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


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!



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…



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!