Is Mediation a Martial Art?

Reflexive Approach and comparison of the Spirit of mediation with the Spirit of Aikido (Resume of my Dissertation)

Hypothesis of my Dissertation

At first look, everything seems removing Aikido and Mediation. Mediation is perceived as a ritual based on Communication act and aiming to solving, with the support of a third person, a problem between two persons. It focuses on the rationalization of the emotions in order to solve a real conflict (opposition of feelings or opinion). Aikido is a Martial Art that associates techniques of combat and a personal and spiritual development: it focuses on the learning of physical techniques, which neutralize the attack of the partner and on the developing of philosophical principles, which can be used outside of the tatamis. Aikido is a codified combat: the practitioners fight « not for real »in an arena with fixed rules in order to train their body and mind.

Beyond the appearances, Aikido and Mediation share some common values. Firstly, both are a form of combat. Mediation can be perceived as a combat with the goal of learning in a peaceful way debate, in order not to destroy but to build or reestablish a space of sharing, a capacity of dialogue. Secondly, the practice of this Martial Art excludes competition. As in mediation there is no referee, no judge. Aikido is not motivated by the desire to win against his opponent. (…) Thirdly, the practice of the techniques is made with some fixed rules: from the beginning, we know who is attacking and who’s receiving the technique. The more advanced student starts with the technique. The practice of Aikido is the Art to fight always in the Spirit of cooperation, as it is in mediation. It is not fighting against the opponent in the spirit of destruction or of defeat but it is creating together. Aikido requires practicing non-violence. (…) Aikido develops compassion for the opponent. Every practitioner evolves and improves his practice of falling down. The projection (ukemi) is not perceived as a defeat. It transforms the attack into a new balance between the partners. It transforms the violence of the attack into a new harmonious relationship. So as in mediation, the practice aims to getting a positive result for both (attacker, and the guy receiving the attack).

This dissertation concentrates on finding resonances or possible links between the practice of aikido and the procedure of mediation: Can we compare the ritual or the form of mediation with the ritual of aikido? Do aikido and mediation share common values? Will the philosophical principles of Aikido that the mediator has integrated, influence her practice of mediation?

Methodology of the Dissertation

In order to compare the process of mediation with the practice of Aikido, we will learn from two Eastern Philosophies:

– We will interest in the Chinese philosophy. It can be resumed in 3 principles: 1) it considers the start of every reality not as a creation but as a continuous process; 2) the Chinese wisdom implies to learn how to evolve by following the circumstances that transform always and to align on them; 3) the ability of the wise is based on the efficiency.

– We will interest in Zen. This philosophy develops the concentration and the awareness of the mind. With practice, the mind becomes a mirror that reflects the reality without deformation. So it perceives the phenomena with more objectivity and less judgment. The meditative practice helps to understand the principle of intedependance, which considers all phenomena are interconnected. In Zen arises an artistic culture that promotes the creativity that comes from the Empty mind.

Keywords for this Dissertation

Aikido – Aligning – Awareness – Common needs– Catharsis – Configuration – Conflict ­– ­Continuum – Cooperation – Creativity – Dynamic – Efficiency – Empathy – Fluidity – Harmonization – Understanding – Interdependence – Link – Listening – Mediation – Mirror –  Non opposition – Nonresistance – Nonviolence – Personal Development – Receptivity – Reconciliation – Mutual Recognition – Reformulation – Empowerment – Wisdom – Separation  – Spontaneity – Stillness – Tendency – Transformation – Trust – Unification – Water – Zen