Awakening to Wholeness: Aikido as an Embodied Praxis of Intersubjectivity

  • Michael A. GordonEmail author


As a lifelong practitioner of Aikido, known as the ‘Art of Peace,’ the author reflects on how cultivating one’s ‘mind and body coordination’ through this defensive art develops embodied non-dissention. This principle is expressed and observed through calmer, more harmonious interaction with others and one’s entire life sphere. A non-competitive art that emerged in modern Japan from the deep spiritual values of its founder, Morihei Ueshiba (O Sensei) Aikido teaches one to blend with an attacker’s movements and ki (‘life force’ or ‘energy’). In the context of moving from ‘first person’ to ‘second-person’ contemplative education practices, this chapter explores through the lens of Aikido the implications of intersubjectivity as a double-bind paradox: How can dualistic consciousness of subject-object dichotomy apply itself to resolving human conflicts while inherently operating from a position of dualism that creates such conflict in the first place? Put yet another way, if one inhabits a dualistic consciousness regarding ‘other’ subject-objects then by the logic of such consciousness, one cannot be intersubjective, and hence, one cannot practice non-dissention. Reflections from Aikido pedagogy and training offer a transformative approach to relationality, one that offers contemplative education a model by which to transcend the habitual conditioning of subject-subject consciousness toward peaceful dialogic interconnectedness. The contention is that contemplative education practices in this way approach more engaged—and not split—intersubjectivity. Through a series of vignettes and explication, the author presents Aikido as a contemplative way of being and living that demands an intersubjective, second-person model of engagement. Thus, this model is based on the view of cosmos as interdependent relationality.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Simon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada

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