Martial Nonviolence

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Peace is a martial art of nonviolence. If you'd like to be good at it, you must train regularly, using both your body (action) and words (communication) together to work through the actual bullying and passive aggression of every day life. When someone chooses not to consider your needs before acting, it is common to not know what to say or do next. Martial Nonviolence provides and practices options which increase safety while opening the door to getting everyone what they need.

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


Martial Nonviolence® (MNv) refers to a unique somatic conflict facilitation method created by Brandon WilliamsCraig which combines practices and concepts from the martial (aikido), theatrical (improv), and Process Arts (group facilitation) to prepare practitioners to provide co-creative leadership in conflict situations and for systemic revision. Capable of engaging circumstances involving obviously physical conflict and more subtle and systemic violence, the practitioner is a guardian and artist with group inquiry and long-term analysis skills, striving for the redefinition of peace itself as "conflict done well".®

When MNv is deployed as a training curiculum for a particular group, it is referred to as Peace Practices.

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Aikido is often practiced and can be effective as a method of individual self-defense. The physicality of aikido is its beginning, but its founder, Morihei Ueshiba explicitly insisted it be an "art of peace" because it may also be  deeply understood energetically, metaphorically, and practiced at the level of ideas and daily communication. Ueshiba is quoted as having said "we do not train to become powerful or to throw down some opponent. Rather we train in hopes of being of some use, however small our role may be, in the task of bringing peace to mankind around the world.”

MNv begins by practicing Aikido 2.0, which moves from silent movement repatterning into embeding language in every technique, so that one need not choose between physical self-protection and co-creative re-direction. Martial artists move smoothly in whatever way and direction seems best.

Physically sophisticated aikido practitioners often find themselves challenged when the need arises to respond to relational and systemic conflict. Academics and social activists, on the other hand, while focused on systemic injustice often find themselves lacking tools to deal with the energetic and bio-physical realities of conflict. This can lead to a retreat into theoretical abstraction when direct action is required to work for change. This is why, for instance, practitioners of meditation, passive non-violence, and the Process Arts frequently seek out aikido instruction to keep their bodies centered and conscious while responding to hostility.


Martial Nonviolence combines the body wisdom and moving meditation within aikido with group process facilitation and professional improvisational skills in order to bridge the hidden and public lives of social change agents, activists and allies to support a more effective, more sustainable social justice practice which makes possible movements toward a more just world.

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Question: Hi --- Does your lexicon include phrases for go no sen, sen no sen, and sen sen no sen?

Response: We say "they start, we start, I start" at the simplest level, and "accompany, trigger, and precede" when adding improv to our practice in order to transition into learning facilitation.