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ADR & Aikido

Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed primarily from a particular style of jujitsu coupled with principles of swordsmanship and focused on non-resistance and non-violence; aikido is as much a philosophy as it is a martial art. The purpose of aikido is to nullify an attack by moving with it, often referred to as “blending”, and redirecting that force towards a safe resolution for both attacker and defender. Moreover, aikido is practiced cooperatively, with partners working together to assist one another along a path of continual self-improvement.

There are many parallels between aikido and conflict resolution skills. Aikido involves learning to control the “fight or flight” response, to move out of the way of an attack while still remaining engaged with the other party, creating a “common centre” with the other person and moving with their momentum in order to guide it. Communicating effectively in the midst of conflict likewise involves controlling the emotional response, being committed to the process instead of avoiding the issue, listening to and understanding the other party’s perspective and searching for a solution that meets their needs as well as your own.

A good deal has been written about this topic. One of the first English publications being Aikido in Everyday Life: Giving in to Get Your Way, by Terry Dobson and Victor Miller. Even “Getting to Yes”, the widely acclaimed book by Fisher and Uri that started much of what became a movement towards Alternative Dispute Resolution, refers to “negotiation jujitsu” and I’m certain this is only because aikido was not well known in the West when this book was first published in 1981.

For more on this topic, check out some of my blog posts including a four-part series entitled Getting Off the Line, our Getting Off the Line course, aimed at teaching conflict resolution skills through the use of basic aikido principles, and links to publications by Paul Lindon sensei PhD, and many others, at our Resources page.