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Aikido is a Japanese martial art which is also known as ‘The Art of Peace’. It is essentially a defensive art with the stated aim of resolving conflicts peacefully. It is a discipline that focuses on development of the body and the mind, and trains one to move in harmony with oneself and others.

What does all this have anything to do with Effective Leadership? How is it relevant in Corporate Life?

While pursuing our careers, we face various kinds of challenges on a regular basis. Depending on the type and level of challenge we face, we try to deal with it and resolve it in the best possible way. But there are times when we succumb to pressure which results in frustration, anxiety and stress.

One of the most important principles of Aikido is to practise ‘Complete Awareness’, not just of our surroundings but also of our own self and the situation by being fully present. This helps a lot while facing a difficult situation as we can see and think with a lot of clarity. A lot of times, our minds are cluttered due to working on autopilot mode which prevents us from making the right decisions. Being fluid and adaptable helps us tremendously in rapidly changing situations as one is not caught up in preconceived notions of things.

There is another beautiful concept known as the ‘Beginner’s Mind’ which makes us look into every situation with a fresh perspective. Most of the time, our accumulated knowledge and experiences do not allow us to deal with a situation innovatively. Having that mindset is a boon when it comes to solving really difficult problems.

In Aikido, attacks are not blocked, whenever there is an attack, one meets it by blending with it and connecting with the attacker. This connection helps in redirecting the force, resulting in diffusing the attack thus allowing a peaceful resolution. Resolving a violent situation without harming the attacker is a choice that the Aikido practitioner makes. This rare kind of choice is a very valuable tool for establishing peace in every situation. Achieving Harmony is one of the most important principles.

This concept can be applied in all aspects of life, including our personal as well as professional relationships, especially when we face friction and conflict. Although all conflicts are not violent, they may get very ugly, disturbing our mental peace and affecting productivity. Discussions that turn into arguments are common as every person thinks differently. Studying Aikido principles will help us see the situation from the perspective of others and open up ways to resolve it. By no means should this be considered giving in. On the other hand, understanding the views of other people gives us the edge to deliver the best resolution. This dignified approach will always be inspirational and certainly be beneficial to organisations. When no energy is lost because of friction, we can dedicate our energy and time to find positive solutions.

Aikido training focuses on defence rather than offence and protection rather than destruction. The practice is challenging but not rough. Those who train find added benefits in stress management, focus, concentration and improved mental and physical health. It also develops self-confidence naturally in our daily lives which is extremely essential when we are in leadership roles.

Studying Aikido is not restricted to the generally assumed physical domain but transcends beyond that to all spheres of life. It adds a new dimension to the way we look and perceive people and situations.

These are a few principles that we can apply to our daily lives which will certainly enhance our leadership skills. There are various other principles too, but we will not cover those in this article as it will require a very detailed explanation which will make this a very long read.

The idea of applying the concepts of Aikido in our lives and especially for Effective Leadership is not new. There are many books and articles which have been written about it. People and organisations, who implement the above mentioned principles of Aikido, certainly benefit immensely.


-Binu Fernandez teaches Aikido and is the Chief Instructor of Pune Aikikai, India

which is a part of Aikido Shimbokukai based in Illinois, USA.

He also conducts workshops on personal safety using principles of Aikido for corporates and educational institutes.

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