The Way of the Classroom: Aikido as Transformative and Embodied Pedagogy Through Self-Cultivation

  • Michael A. GordonEmail author


Contemplative education approaches pedagogical spaces as an already living ecology. Something is already happening through the emotional, psychological, and somatic registers arising from the histories, daily psychosocial struggles, aspirational intentions within individuals and group dynamics. While contemplative practice develops insight into one’s moment-to-moment experience, the transitory nature of our thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, thus enabling emotional regulation in the classroom, these inner registers are often associated with behavioral or habitual ‘triggers,’ especially during stress. How do we remediate our own reflexivity and reactiveness, especially with one another? Beyond contemplative awareness, how do we move toward transformation of our ways of being and doing, especially as regards contact with others or ‘relationality.’ This chapter introduces the art of Ki Aikido as training for calm readiness in daily life. As a defensive martial art, Ki Aikido uses principles of ‘mind and body coordination’ incorporated from Japanese yoga to focus practitioners’ attentiveness on their psychosomatic state when under challenge or ‘attack.’ By incrementally reworking our inner reactivity, Ki Aikido teaches us to diffuse an ‘outer’ challenge or attack through calm, fluid timing, and the ethos of the budo (jap: ‘warriorship’) principle of ‘loving protection.’ Without requiring one to enter and endure years of traditional advanced Aikido training, one can immediately develop an embodied awareness of non-dissention. This article foregrounds the practice of Ki Aikido as a model for transformational, relational, and contemplative education. As a kind of ‘moving meditation,’ Ki Aikido is highlighted as a cultivational approach that is restorative for both educator, students, and toward harmonized relationships with life at large.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Simon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada

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