Uno de mis seminarios favoritos del semestre fue el de Marisol Bock sobre Aikido. El hecho de combinar los aspectos conceptuales del Aikido junto con lo vivencial, la experiencia que todos tuvimos ese día practicándolo, me parece un abordaje didáctico muy valioso y menospreciado muchas veces en espacios académicos. El seminario me recordó en seguida de mi amiga Rana Haroun, ella tiene 25 años, nació en Marruecos pero vive actualmente en Estados Unidos. Rana y yo nos conocimos hace un año en Innsbruck, estudiando ahí también paz y transformación de conflictos. Ella practica Aikido regularmente y en este momento está escribiendo su tesis de máster sobre el tema. Hace unos días hablamos del tema y esto fue lo que me contó:
AC: Why you become so interested in Aikido and when did you have your first contact with it?
RH: Well, I began practicing Aikido in September 2012, a couple of weeks before I started the Master in Peace Studies. There are a few reasons why I started Aikido: boredom, was looking for an activity to do as a hobby and curiosity: I attended an Aikido class a year before I started it because my nephew used to practice it, and most importantly, I saw that we were going to practice Aikido during my third semester in Innsbruck.
AC: I know that your thesis for the master is on Aikido, can you explain me briefly your research question and goal with your thesis research?
RH: My research question is as follow: based on the philosophical and spiritual roots of Aikido and Non-Violent Communication, how are the principles of Non-Violent Communication embodied in Aikido?
This question started from an intuition I had. While practicing Aikido, I felt that each movement, each technique was “saying” something even though no words are uttered during practice. This intuition got stronger when I read Marshall Rosenberg’s book on “Non-Violent Communication” as I felt both NVC and Aikido shared similar principles, while being expressed differently. I made my mind to explore this research when I read a book by Mitsugi Saotome who wrote: “Aikido is communication,” and when I attended a seminar in summer 2013 where the relationship between Aikido and communication was explored.
My goal with my research is to show concrete ways in which NVC is embodied in Aikido, that is, how the techniques are emphasizing such a communication. The aim is to bring the philosophy and spirituality of both Aikido and NVC together and to provide a framework in which they can be used in practice. As my work is still in progress, the result may change as I do my research, but this is my primary intention.
Here Rana practicing Aikido
AC: Do you believe that Aikido has potential as an approach to sensitize people on peace and harmony? What is your personal inner experience on practicing Aikido to reach harmony and peace?
RH: As any activity, I do not believe that Aikido is for everyone. Some people, like me, can see its amazing potential in mediating conflicts; while others only see it as a sport. Some argue that it is an art of peace while others still view Aikido as an art of war. There are no unilateral views on the purpose of Aikido. Each Aikidoka (Aikido practitioner) can give you a different answer to that. So if you ask me, Aikido does have a potential to sensitize people on peace and harmony, but only if those people are open to such a perspective.
According to my own experience with Aikido, it helps me reach harmony through a balance of my body/spirit. It is difficult to explain in words, but after each Aikido practice, I feel as if my inner energy was renewed, as if I was purified from the inside. For example, if I am having a bad day, and I am sad or angry about a situation, I go to Aikido and my practice changes my inner energy, and the sad/angry energy dissipates to be replaced by a calm and soothing one. In my own experience, Aikido has the power to transform energy, not only on an interpersonal level, but also on an intrapersonal one.
AC: In which ways do you consider that Aikido can help in conflicts or violent settings?
RH: There is balance at the heart of Aikido. Balance is taught through the spirituality of Aikido, but also through its practice. The kamae stance (basic posture) is a perfect example of being balanced as I try to even my weight on both of my legs, stay centered and grounded to the floor. This stance is one that starts and ends every technique.
Here is an example of how such a stance can help conflict: if I am arguing with someone, and our words start to get loud and unfriendly, there is conflict. With each words said to me, I feel unbalanced, as if I received a slap on my face, and my initial response is to utter a stronger word, or “push back.” Now, on the physical level, I can say that my weight is never even throughout my body as I sway while receiving and pushing the attack. On the mental level, the same thing happens: I am unbalanced. If I want this conflict to end without creating pain, I have to find my center through kamae. In practice, this means that I focus on the center of my body, usually through breath. Breathing is an important component, both for Aikido, and NVC. By breathing, I center myself, bring new energy to the conflict and focus on what my feelings and needs are, and what the other person’s feelings and needs are. This way, the conflict becomes conversation and the energy of the communication shifts from Violent Communication to a Non-Violent one.
I could give you many other ways on how Aikido transforms the energy of a conflict, as this is what my thesis is about. However, I will stop here and invite anyone who is interested in the topic to read my thesis once it is done.
AC: Thanks a lot Rana and yes many of us look forward to read your thesis !! 🙂
Si quieren saber más sobre comunicación no violenta, aquí les dejo una conferencia con su creador Marshall Rosenberg donde explica con vehemencia su alternativa para comunicarnos desde la compasión y el entendimiento hacia al otro.
Aquí comparto también una entrevista muy interesante sobre el proyecto Aikido without borders, que trabaja en la transmisión del Aikido a niños y jóvenes palestinos e israelíes para fomentar el entendimiento mutuo y la paz entre estas dos naciones.