Cuma, Ocak 08, 2010

Aikido and Psychology

It may seem paradoxical to include martial arts practice as an important aspect to being a therapist. When we think of the martial arts, words such as, “opponent”, “defeat”, and “against” often come to mind. However, Aikido differs from disciplines such as karate, tai chi, and even yoga because it emphasizes the importance of blending with your partner. In Aikido, as in therapy, it is necessary to read body language and understand the intention of the person with whom you are working. These are some of the fundamental reasons that ITP requires the study of Aikido for our Residential students.

The Founder of Aikido, its first sensei, or teacher, forbade competition. The relationship between therapist and client is unlike any other; it is important for the therapist to create a safe space for the client and to be aware of his or her own emotional state before the session starts.

Sue Ann McKean, an Aikido teacher at ITP, says that, “Aikido helps bridge the body and the brain. It gives you experience with the physical connection necessary in transpersonal psychology, while teaching you to be grounded and centered. Aikido helps with knowing where the boundaries are, with containing and setting aside your own feelings and with knowing how and when to blend with the energy of your partner.”

McKean goes on to state that in Aikido classes, “The partner shows where it is that we need to grow. The successful practice of Aikido requires the ability to shift, and when that shift cannot occur, a blockage is often the reason” that the shift is prevented. In transpersonal psychology, as with virtually any therapeutic practice, it is important that the therapist be able to modify his or her responsiveness to a client’s behavior. If the client is projecting; that is, externalizing his or her own emotional state onto the therapist, then the therapist would need to have a different reaction to that situation than if the client had had a moment of insight and needed heartfelt, empathic connection.

Robert Frager, one of the founders of ITP and a longtime aikido practitioner, says, “The principles of transpersonal psychology must be embodied to become real. Otherwise, they are merely idealistic philosophy. Aikido and the other body aspects of the six areas of study at ITP make it possible for us to embody transpersonal principles.”

Frager elaborates on the mind-body connection between aikido and transpersonal psychology by adding, “Aikido teaches us to center ourselves and to deal with our own aggression and control of power. It is important to be comfortable with power, and aikido shows physical power in a concrete way, on the mat. It teaches how to control your own power in response to someone else’s.”

Frager points out that practicing aikido is gratifying because, due to its physical nature, it provides instant feedback

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