Peace Through Violence: Using the martial art Aikido to teach youth how to manage interpersonal conflict

Degree Name

MA in Conflict Transformation

First Advisor

John Ungerleider


This paper is primarily concerned with the usefulness of Aikido as a foundation for teaching young people how to manage interpersonal conflict. Aikido is a martial art that combines philosophy and body movement that is conducive to exploring interpersonal conflict. The majority of the paper is given to exploring the findings and themes from the eight people I interviewed regarding Aikido and conflict for young people. The consensus is that Aikido is helpful for young people in regards to managing conflict with others. The key themes common amongst the interviews were: dealing with the fight or flight response during conflict, learning how to be centered during conflict, learning composure and presence through training, and the physical connection that Aikido affords. Aikido's primary strength is that it sets up conflict with another person in a safe setting. This conflict can elicit, among other things, the fight or flight stress response in an individual, which allows the practitioner to notice and be aware of their physiological response to conflict. After sensing this response to conflict, Aikido students are given tools to help them remain relaxed, alert, and compassionate toward others in the most stressful and physically rigorous situations that the martial art can provide. This training, provided with the space and encouragement for self reflection, can lead to profound inner changes for youth and can give them the tools and philosophy needed to deal with inter-personal conflict positively and healthily.


Peace and Conflict Studies

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