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The pacific philosophy of aikido: an interactional approach


Augustin Lefebvre

Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, FR
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This paper engages with the question of the invention of martial arts by examining the case of the Japanese martial art aikido. Relying on existing schools of traditional martial arts, Morihei Ueshiba [1883-1969] created aikido with the goal of transforming techniques aiming at killing the opponent into techniques which could benefit both partners. Instead of becoming stronger than the opponent, the goal of aikido practice is to improve the individual’s behaviour during their physical interaction with their partner. The question I examine in this paper is how practitioners manifest such philosophy during their practice and through their embodied conduct. I focus specifically on how practitioners simulate a situation of conflict through semiotic structures [Goodwin 2000] through which they construct a world of movement in which anticipating the attacker’s movement becomes possible. Because practitioners are organized with such a framework, they can, through movements of the whole body, pacifically produce and resolve the situation of conflict.  This study contributes to understanding how a practical philosophy is implemented within the practitioners’ bodies and is manifested during social interaction.

How to Cite: Lefebvre, A., 2016. The pacific philosophy of aikido: an interactional approach. Martial Arts Studies, (2), pp.91–109. DOI:
Published on 16 Jun 2016.
Peer Reviewed


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