NCET explores business and technology
By Bill Saylor
Aikido, a Japanese martial art developed by O’Sensei Morihei Ueshiba in Japan in the mid-20th century, arose from O’Sensei’s study of a variety of martial traditions which he synthesized into the art that became aikido. Literally, the harmonious (“ai”) energy (“ki”) way (“do”), aikido is known as the “art of peace.” It is sometimes described as a “soft” form, but that is something of a misnomer as the techniques involve strikes, throws, pins, and parries alongside redirection, awareness, and conflict resolution methods.
An aikido practice begins with a welcoming bow to the shomen in the dojo, followed by simple calisthenics and warm-up exercises. Then, the teacher or sensei, demonstrates a technique and welcomes all students to perform the technique with a partner. The focus is on receiving the partner’s technique and defusing the aggression without escalating.
Partners pair-off, bow to each other, and, in Japanese, thank each other (in advance) for training.
Partners, note, not opponents, then take turns performing both sides of the technique, both as the thrower and as the recipient of the technique. At the end of a series, partners again bow together and thank each other for training.
The sensei observes and provides encouragement, guidance, and correction before repeating the process with another technique or a variation on the first. A practice is typically an hour and ends, as it begins, with a bow and thanks to the sensei and one’s fellow students. Students then quickly clean the dojo and prepare it for the next class.
What lessons does aikido provide to the business person? Beyond the health benefits that come from any regular physical practice, aikido also provides a paradigm-shifting focus on resolving conflict in a mutually beneficial framework.
Beginning the day, week, or just the meeting with a quiet recognition of the moment and a gratitude for the coming lesson changes even the most fraught situation. One may expect, in advance, to encounter difficulty and conflict. One knows that a new situation will not be handled perfectly, but one can always work towards a better, more compassionate response.
Recognizing that one is surrounded by “sensei” and “partners” in a variety of guises is liberating. Gone is the opponent or “other” and welcome is the partner or colleague. In the business world, aikido would be all about the “win-win” resolution.
In business and on the mat one never knows what today’s practice will entail. The focus is not on perfecting the technique but on awareness and on blending with the partner for mutual benefit.
Regardless of the events of the day, a quiet moment and a settling and straightening of the desk ends the day and leaves all in quiet readiness for the next day.
Bill Saylor is a Tax and Audit Manager for Kohn & Company LLP and NCET’s VP of Finance. He also trains at Aikido of Reno. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology.