If someone provokes you, do you push back? Turn the other cheek? Change course? If so, how? You may find the answers in Aikido, a Japanese martial art whose name has been translated as “the way of harmonious spirit”. It has less to do with power and more to do with perspective. To gain control of your opponent’s actions, you enter their space, seeing their viewpoint and taking away their target. Then you blend their energy with yours, and use their momentum to shift and/or neutralize the flow. Similarly, during a discussion, you try to understand your opponent’s intentions and feelings and use them to direct your remarks. This excerpt from George Leonard’s book, “The Way of Aikido: Life Lessons From an American Sensei,” gives an overview of Aikido, which is not just a dance between opponents, but an exercise in empathy.
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