You may be surprised to know that the Verbal Aikido approach is a worldwide movement that has existed for a very long time, in some form or another. Since I first touched on it myself in 2009 I quickly realized the presence of a collective consciousness that had brought it into existence. Indeed, as with many of these blog posts, the following article is a response to an oft-asked question. Where does it all come from?
Well the short answer is Morihei Ueshiba. The “Great Teacher” named his approach officially “Aikido” in 1942 and continued to develop it throughout his life, not only on a physical level but very deeply in its philosophical aspects too. Although Ueshiba did not coin the term “Verbal Aikido”, it was clearly part of his vision for interaction on all levels, verbal, emotional, physical etc. Here’s a wonderfully illustrated video on Aikido and its movement from the Thrive film:
Where do I fit into it all? I stumbled on to it. I was an educational consultant and, one of my clients (a para-medical school) asked me if I could help their teachers manage agressive and disrespectful students. With my experience in martial aikido and my great love for the philosophy I immediately felt that some form of “Verbal Aikido” would be a perfect solution. I was initially buzzing with the idea that I had “invented” something, but within about 15 seconds Google had curbed my enthusiastic discovery euphoria – there was already a few people who had made reference to it (at the time the most extensive work on it was Kyle and Pace Smith who had written a chapter on it in their book “The Usual Error”, inspired by Terry Dobson’s work).
This was in fact quite reassuring… indeed, it meant that there were already many people out there on a similar wavelength, and after reaching out to everyone who had referenced Verbal Aikido at the time, I was greatly encouraged by all that responded. Where I was able to contribute to this art was of course through my speciality – how to teach it: how to make it enjoyable, dynamic and easy-to-learn. Which is where the “Dora-esque” Three Steps come from!
Since then it has been constantly developping, surprisingly, at first, quickly. Later I understood that, as the underlying VA principle was to develop relationships, the development of it was inevitably a co-creative process. From the moment I started sharing my findings on the art, its very essence has brought to me and many others a veritable universe behind each of the Three Steps. A large variety of techniques for centering (Inner Smile), accompanying (Irimi) and ways to propose balanced outcomes (Ai-ki), have come to the fore. The exercises and supports too that have been co-created with, and for learners enable reflex and timing development for these Three Steps. Many are covered in the books and the training courses.
Suffice to say that, according to the founder – the changing of technique over time is the essential nature of Aikido – and I have been continually blessed with opportunities to adapt and develop the Verbal Aikido approach with practitioners.
“From so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.” Charles Darwin (Origin of the species)