I hope that my family, friends, and colleagues will help me learn to be peaceful by being both martial

  • address conflict directly by practicing techniques that work

and nonviolent

  • practiced opting-out of individual and group domination, especially including retribution, in order to work toward helping everyone get what they believe they need.

It is essential to begin stating explicitly and regularly, at the earliest possible moment, that doing conflict well is an essential skill, to be practiced often, and that keeping one's center balanced and moving in the presence of "attacks" is the core physical and emotional discipline in times of stress. The next essential piece always involves speaking the truth, at least to oneself, for now, if the truth would unhelpfully escalate tensions.

Some developmentally appropriate steps and words which create good conflict habits, which I have been refining through practice for several years now, go something like this: "I feel hurt by what you were saying/doing. When that happens I have a hard time knowing what to do. Would you like to take turns listening to each other now or should we be apart and try again later?" Next steps might include: "Should we ask for help? What do you need? Let's go together. Tell me more."

All the while, the attention is on "how shall we do this together?" rather than "how can I make you stop/leave me alone/grow up," etc. because that simply invites the next attack. Whenever "they" come after you, they should know that they will be received in a way that makes further attack irrelevant and other options more attractive. Practice is required to deploy the art of changing the rules to co-create a world that works well for everyone involved in a way that remains ever open to hearing from others what that might be.

We hope to create new and better conflict habits which are more likely to get you more of whatever you need.

To get started, I'll begin a conflict and you act out a common reaction.

The path to new habits can be a bit complex, since there is a lot going on in the body when you have been doing something the same way for a long time. Often one begins with the usual, and then changes to one part of the new habit at a time, perhaps following this pattern:

  1. Notice a Need Out There (isms)
  2. Notice a Need In Here (somatic)
  3. Believe, Choose, Decide (by acting)
  4. Do the Usual (study your habit)
  5. Change the Other (attempt to externalise)
  6. Become Different Through Repeated Steps (settle in to purpose)

What we've done is take a largely unconscious process and brought it into the light by doing it on purpose. We move conflict from something to be handled automatically/reactively (avoided, resented, exploited) to something it makes sense to get good at. For us, peace is a martial art, something you learn to do through repetition, in private and with friends committed to practice, and then take into the world as part of your skill set.

In the words of the founder of aikido:

"Aiki is not a technique to fight with or defeat an enemy. It is the way to reconcile the world and make human beings one family. The secret of aikido is not how you move your feet, it is how you move your mind. I’m not teaching you martial techniques. I’m teaching you non-violence. -  Moriehei Ueshiba