Fielding technique … and Aikido

Background: Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art, developed by Morihei Ueshiba between the 1920s and the 1960s. Aikido contains a very significant spiritual component.

One of the key experiences of aikido is that the attacked uses his love, or appreciation, for the attacker to neutralise him. As much as possible of the energy of the attack is turned into an action that brings the attack to a halt.

Even without the (for aikido necessary) spirituality, there are a few lessons in there for coaching. E.g. the “attack” may corresponds to an assault that the client has experienced in his work environment. – It is often (not always) best responded to by turning the energy of the aggressor against himself. How can this be done?

One possibility is an old assertiveness training technique called “fielding” – when you are bullied, simply react by repeating a simple message. E.g. when the bully is trying to manipulate you into doing him some special favour, you might say: “I don’t want to”. He will usually come at you with the same request from a different direction. You say: “I really don’t want to.” And so on, possibly a few more times. All this achieves is to make clear where your boundaries are, no more. It does not give you magic powers over the aggressor, it does not guarantee victory. However, fielding regularly takes the air out of an attack or a manipulative attempt or a bullying.

In my coaching practice, I have found this fielding technique especially useful for female coachees.

Another technique similar in spirit to Aikido is Erickson’s fundamental tenet of “Speak the client’s language.”

I will write more about lessons from Aikido for coaching in subsequent posts, since I have recently begun studying it & enjoy it very much though it regularly brings me to the limit of my physical abilities (as I am writing this, my every muscle hurts!)

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