Virtual Tatami

Are you ready to offer your hand ?’s Online Virtual Tatami (or sparring mat) exists to receive examples of aggressive verbalisms, such as objections, accusations, blame or judgment and so on. It is a virtual space where you can bring or propose your ‘attacks’ to be received by Verbal Aikido and the practice of this art as proposed in Verbal Aikido: The art of directing verbal attacks to a balanced outcome. Simply leave your words in the box below, or propose ‘Irimi’ for the attacks that have been posted.

Some notes on annotation

‘Partner:’= the one who initiates an attack, (Previously ‘Att.’)
‘Practitioner:’ = the one who is practicing VA. (Previously ‘Aik.’)
‘[…]’ = transcription for the use of the Inner Smile.
[***]’ = transcription of a destabilization during an exchange.
‘[—]’ = transcription for a (possible) energy balance (Ai-ki) during an exchange.

For example:

Partner: You stupid xxxx
Practitioner: […] I see, but could you describe me in just one word?
Partner: [Obscenity]!!!
Practitioner: […] I’m sure you can find more than that!
Partner: [***] Euh, sure, I’ve got loads!
Practitioner: […] Hey, I bet we can find hundreds for both of us if we put our heads together, wanna try?

Simply leave a text starting with “Partner:” in the comments box below.

More resources:
◀ FAQ | VA First-aid Kit ▶

Delve deeper into Verbal Aikido:
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28 thoughts on “Virtual Tatami

  1. Att: when you are talking you are not working
    (waves index finger in air in a circular motion to indicate “hurry up”

  2. I’m sorry, no offence meant, could you explain what you mean in greater, more meaningful depth please, my mum always said it was good to talk and be friendly . . . be on good terms, she said,with all you meet. So I want to do the right thing by you as well as my dear late mother.


    Oh, I just love those little hand signals, do you know any others?

        1. Thanks Michael, yes. If you mean by the “…” that you invite them to continue (Ki-no Nagare), then it’s a good start and so many possibilities from there. Here’s an example
          Att: You have no idea what you’re talking about!
          Aik: What makes you say that? (Intention Prod)
          Att: Well you’re all over the place!/You’re getting all the facts wrong! etc.
          Aik: So you’d prefer that I …? (Open Reverso)
          Att: XYZ
          Aik: How can we go about getting there (Common Ground/Bright Future)

  3. ‘I am a qualified behavioural scientist and have read all about Skinner and behaviourism – you were (most likely) in high school when I qualified.

    You don’t know who you’re talking to and neither do you care’

    1. 1. “I see, so you have a great deal more experience than me in this domain?” (doesn’t really matter what the response to this is…)
      2. “So tell me more about who I’m talking to… (and maybe we can get to know each other better)”

      1. Att: Really? Then how would YOU analyze this situation?
        Aik: What do you mean?
        Att: What’s YOUR take on why it happened?
        Aik: Well thank you first, for your interest. I guess we never really know, but maybe it’s because XYZ… What about you, do you have a theory?

  4. (During conversations about a student I’ve known a long time, I shared an insight with Attacker, who is brand new to meeting this student) In response to my statements about student:
    Att: “or not”.

    Aik: “sometimes N likes to argue”.
    Att: “or not” accompanied by unsmiling stare

    Aik: “When N is upset, he does well with notes instead of verbal directions”
    Att: “or not”

    1. Att:”or not”
      Aik:”[…] There is always that possibility, indeed… so how do you see things?”
      Att:”Well, not exactly the way you do!”
      Aik:”Excellent! A new set of eyes – tell me, what have you noticed?
      Att:”Well, X, Y, Z”
      Aik:”Great, and how do you think we should deal with that?”
      Aik:”In any case, I’m sure if we combine our unique perspectives, plus our capacity to find a solution, we’ll work something out in the end, what do you think?”

  5. Att: ‘you made comments in an email and in person that were negative, confrontational, assertive, aggressive, demanding, entitled, unprofessional and overfamiliar’

    1. Aik: OK I appreciate your courage in coming to me about this. There’s a few things here so where do we start?
      Att: It was just so negative and aggressive!
      Aik: I hear you. And you’d prefer to receive…
      Att: Well positive, encouraging emails obviously!
      Aik: Yes, indeed, two words I can get on board with. Ok how could we say the same things in a positive encouraging way?

  6. What would you say to someone you are with a person who tells story after story and does not pause to break or let the other person comment or talk and just keeps on talking?

    1. Hi Cindy, good one.
      I would let them. It depends on the relationship, but I’m usually really interested in people’s stories. If they seem to go on a bit, I may say “have you ever thought of writing a book?” It’s a nice one that enables them to save face, and has the added effect of being an encouragement thus saving face for the “someone”, who then usually lets go of the talk space.

      If it was important for me to also share my stories I might at some later stage (one-to-oe) bring up the idea of balanced exchanges.
      “Balance” is a magnetic word. Even if this “someone” is not interested in balance and how to restore/regain it (which is rare), at least their perspective is clearer and you know what to expect in future encounters!

    1. Att: You’re weak and submissive
      Aik: What do you mean?
      Att: Well… I mean you always XYZ
      Aik: And you’d prefer that I…?
      Att: Well, that you take more initiative/stand up for yourself etc.
      Aik: OK what would you recommend?
      Att: [***] Just be stronger
      Aik: Hey how about we take a moment together to see really what options are available to us on that?

    1. Hello Polly.
      Partner: It’s just incredible how proud and disrespectful you’ve become.
      Practitioner: What makes you say that? (Past Intention Prod)
      Partner: The way you act nowadays!
      Practitioner: What would you prefer to see? (Open Reverso)
      Partner: [***] Well, someone who is respectful!
      Practitioner: Right. For me too, respect is important. What would you recommend? (Truth Hold, Enthusiasm Hold, S.O.S.)
      Partner: [***] Euh…
      Practitioner: Look, this seems important for both of us. How about we grab a coffee and see how we can understand each other better about “respect”? (Common Ground, Bright Future)
      Timing is key here, once you recognize a significant destabilization, propose an “Us” direction rather than leaving your partner in difficulty. Also this only works if you truly attach a strong importance to “respect”, and understand that it is a rather subjective word!

  7. Hello friends,
    What do you do when someone demands an apology from you during an argument?
    I feel that forcing someone to pretend to feel sorry for something does no good (bc they did not do it with the intent to harm). It is disturbing, actually, and it is simply an exercise of power. I am unsure how to use verbal aikido in this situation and I’m open to tips. Thank you.

    1. Hello Pamela,
      Yes a very interesting potential conflict.
      There’s pressure to follow a certain logic – tricky.
      The more you understand about the motivations the better.
      An exchange may be :
      Partner: I demand an apology!
      Practitioner: […] What would you like me to apologize for? (Future intention Prod)
      Partner: You shouldn’t have done what you did!
      Practitioner: […] I think I see what you mean. Is there anything else you think I should do? (Truth hold, Ki-no Nagare)
      Partner: [***] Well… an apology would be a good start!
      Practitioner: […] I hear you. (Truth hold)
      By this stage you may notice a change in energy. Here’s a suggested directions you can go in.
      Aperture (create an opening): “Yes, I’d like to sort this out, but I feel like there’s some information I need to share first. Would you be ok with that?”
      (It’s good practice to share (Centered Expression) with max. 3 phrases or in under 10 seconds)
      S.O.S “OK, Can you help me out here? Given both our positions, what would the ideal apology sound like?”
      By this stage there should be a notable reduction in pressure and the exchange will have oriented towards a more conversational level. It’s key to return to your center before each “technique” used. You may measure how close to your center you are by how neutral your intonation is when you deliver the movements.

      1. Yes, I think I understand better now. Thank you for this response. I am so glad to receive tips. I appreciate them.
        I noticed in the above dialogue that the practioner never actually apologizes, correct? So I am curious: is it possible to exit this type of conversation without actually apologizing?

        1. It’s important to know what apologizing actually means for each person. Personally I like the Spanish version: “Lo siento”, it means “I feel it”. When we can understand or empathize with the suffering that our actions may have caused another, we can truly say “I feel it” (Centered Expression). This may be what your partner is looking for. A follow-up may be “Now what can we do to rebalance/reharmonize our relationship?” (Future intention Prod/Bright Future).

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