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Unlikely Teachers

Unlikely Teachers

The workplace can be a battleground. Your work mates are out to lunch, the customer isn’t always right and your boss doesn’t have a clue. You can fight back, or you can – breathe – and direct all that energy in more positive directions. Judy Ringer’s new book applies the principals of the ancient martial art of Aikido to conflict management. You should read this one, Grasshoppper.



Is Aikido a Key to Conflict Management?

Judy RingerWe don’t know Aikido from al-Qaeda, but we’ve certainly experienced the pressures of conflict at work. That’s why many of us now work from home. The ancient art of Aikido, according to black belt master Judy Ringer, is about much more than self defense. It is a form of defense that redirects aggressive energy toward solving conflict without harming the attacker. The goal here is to win by reaching a solution, rather than obliterating your opponent. Someone should send a copy to the White House.

Aikido is about harmony and conflict resolution. Who could be opposed to that? But it’s hard for us humans to outmaneuver our animal instincts. Emotions tell us to fight or flee. Judy Ringer says there is a better way. It just takes a little enlightenment, and lots of practice.

We willing to learn new tricks, but we absolutely refuse to wear a martial arts robe to work. Judy says the outfit isn’t required. We asked a few more questions about this exciting new book and here’s what we learned.

SEACOASTNH: What got you started down the Aikido road?

JUDY RINGER: In 1984, I met Tom Crum, author of The Magic of Conflict. His workshop was my first introduction to Aikido and its practical applications to conflict in daily life. I got hooked by Aikido’s beauty and power and kept going back for more.

The Aikido metaphor says that the attack can be transformed into useful energy, and this made a lot of sense to me. I also appreciated that conflict is not just about theory. When conflict arises, we react physically and emotionally, and theory only goes so far in addressing these reactions. Aikido offers mind/body techniques to help us manage ourselves so that we can better manage what is coming at us. Gradually I became certified (1993) to teach Tom's Magic of Conflict approach. That's what got me onto the mat. I thought I'd better understand the approach from the ground up. And for the last few years I've been assisting with Tom's Journey to Center program in Colorado. He is a very generous teacher, mentor, and colleague. You might also check out his new book, Three Deep Breaths.

SEACOASTNH: Do I need to practice Aikido to use the techniques in the book?

JUDY RINGER: No. That's what is so fun about the book. Unlikely Teachers went through many drafts, and the first readers were people who did not practice Aikido. These readers made me spell out the metaphor and use examples that anyone could understand and use. I think it's accessible to anyone who wants to learn how to change their conflict habits.


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