Two years ago I decided to try an aikido class. A few months before I had had a stressing experience in a concert where I felt threatened by a drunk guy, nothing important happened but I was encouraged to try to get some self-defense skills. Indeed I don’t want to hit anyone, and that’s why aikido looked so interesting, as the main goal was never hitting back, avoiding the confrontation and redirect all that coming energy against the attacker. In one sentence: the more harm you want to make me, the stronger strike you will get back.
But the philosophy of this art of Budo is beyond protecting oneself and controlling the techniques of turning the movements and energy against the attacker. There’re important principles that define aikido. A few of them are the following:
- Avoid confrontation: you always need to avoid confrontation when possible. Conflict is never constructive and nothing good will come from it. If it’s not possible to avoid it, then you need to know the right skills to solve the situation.
- You win if attacker is not harmed: projections and luxations are an important part of the techniques used in to resolve a confrontation, but you need to learn to do it without causing harm. If you overcome the situation and both parts are well at the end, you win.
- Irimi: this term means entering straight, and has a sense of anticipation. Some basic techniques are based on this anticipation and not waiting to the attacker to be on you. Indeed it’s necessary to have a good control of distance. If you are good on anticipating, you’ll control the situation more easily.
- Tension: if someone is grabbing your hand or shoulder with energy, you take advantage of it and use it against the opponent. And that’s why in the first years of learning aikido you learn to relax yourself, as not doing it properly will cause more harm during trainings, or allow the opponent to use it against you. You learn to be flexible and relaxed, which is decisive to succeed against the attack. You learn to forget the fear to falling, to being injured… fears make you tighten yourself.
If you read carefully these principles and forget about martial arts you’ll realize that they can also apply to your life, to your business, to your relations with colleagues and managers at work. A few months ago I realized of all this on my own and I started saying that I was also doing aikido at work.
Before finishing this post I want to thank Toni Tassani for having shared his experience on recent Barcelona’s Leancamp where among other interesting aspects he shared the story of that small aikido’s exercise, where they were drawing an analogy between aikido and business indeed. This conversation is what motivated me to write this post.