Moto-Morphosis: The Gestalt of Aikido and Psychotherapy, and Motorcycling as ‘Way’

  • Michael A. GordonEmail author


This chapter explores the idea of ‘skillful attunement’ and ‘embodied consciousness’ (Merleau-Ponty in Phenomenology of perception. Routledge, London and New York, 2012), and body-mind-ecological unity through the intersubjective and intercorporeal practice of the Japanese defensive art of Aikido. Aikido is a practice of non-dual awareness, teaching practitioners to make no conceptual distinction between themselves, an ‘opponent’ and the world around them, allowing them to ‘harmonize’ and blend their spirit or life energy (ki: Japanese) with infinite ki of the Cosmos. These phenomenological aspects are also considered via the intersubjective notion of social self in the philosophies of G. H. Mead, Buber, and Tetsuro Watsuji—and expand the idea of gestalt (e.g., in Gestalt Therapy) through Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida’s notion of basho (Japanese: temporal-spatiality). Spiegel’s (The upper half of the motorcycle: On the unity of rider and machine. Whitehorse Press, 2010) phenomenology of motorcycling as ‘rider-bike unity’—much like the harmonious relationship between attacker and defender in the non-dual ontology of Aikido—is seen as a practice that cultivates one’s attuned, incorporated relationship with the dynamics of perception, experience, reality-at-hand, and ecology at large. The author looks at his own near-death experience resulting from a motorcycling accident to explore how the kinesthetic, elemental, sensorial, and pan-affective aspects of riding demand of a rider moment-to-moment attention which, if such a rider is fully attentionally engaged, provides a panoply of sensual, motor-sensory delight. If we are not so enthralled, the aspects of riding that elicit such heightened experience between rider, machine, and road can make themselves known abruptly catastrophically and unforgivingly in our ‘dis-integration.’


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Simon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada

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