How does aikido stop aggression without violence? The aikidoist evades a strike or grab by moving off the line of attack, leading the momentum and energy of the attack into a throw. This approach to self-defense provides a unique opportunity to explore broader life-skills through the physical embodiment of non-oppositional conflict resolution. Sarete practice is based on the following concepts:
Centering: Breathing, body alignment, and muscle activity initiate a non-oppositional state of readiness. This centered state is not meant to be a constant but a point-of-reference for self-regulation and goal-oriented action.
Breathe from the lower abdomen and relax to allow full-body expansion.
Extend the spine from the center down to the tailbone and up to the top of the head.
Shift the weight of the body to the balls of the feet.
Let go with hands, arms, shoulders, chest, etc.
Connection: Stance, proximity, and orientation allow the development of dynamic connections with others. Martial etiquette is used to explore notions of self-presentation, interaction, personal space, and non-verbal communication.
Greet the presence of your partner as the opportunity for practice
Stand at the intersection of separated and overlapping personal space.
Accept the intent of your partner while maintaining a centered self.
Response: Blending with force, isolating aggression, and initiating change establish security and create opportunities during confrontation. Aikido movements are physical alternatives to freeze, flight, or fight behavior.
Move with the expression of force to a non-oppositional, non-targeted position.
Lead the force and momentum away from mutually shared space.
Re-direct the attacker to mutually open alternatives.
Resolution: Non-oppositional response interrupts the dynamic of conflict and creates an opportunity for alternative solutions. The energy of the attack is the energy used for a technique and for resolution.
Interpret conflict as a need for change.
View techniques and solutions as opportunities not applications.
Work towards successful resolution that establishes mutual well-being.
Recognize that force and opposition create, not reduce conflict.
Reorientation: Participants take the role of attacker, target, and aikidoist, embodying natural impulses and practicing empowered alternatives.
Become familiar with the behaviors and experience of freeze, flight, and fight.
Minimize the potential for conflict by practicing self-regulation.
Embody practices that support resolution and goal-oriented behavior.