There’s another option, says Jeff Dowdy of Sarete.org, a Richmond-based non-profit organization that helps people practice being better in conflict. When someone pushes your buttons, you can get off the line of attack, and lead them in a more productive direction. You can see things from their perspective, and perhaps then offer them another way to view the situation.
On Sunday, July 3, Jeff and his brother Brian led the 14- and 15-year-old campers at St. George’s Session IV in a workshop that used some basic principles of aikido to explore the Christian practice of nonviolence. Aikido, a Japanese martial art, means ‘the way of peace.’ Jeff had 90 campers pair up with each other to practice low-impact forms of aikido-based self-defense. As Jeff demonstrated, aikido techniques aren’t about size or strength – the practical physical exercises let campers use their partner's negative energy (a poke or a wrist grab) to put themselves and their partner in a more safe and productive space.
Perhaps more importantly, aikido teaches people to respond to conflict with a desire for friendship, knowing that meeting force with force doesn’t produce a good result. The physical practice of aikido is meant to transform the heart of the practitioner, so that when we find ourselves in conflict, we can respond non-anxiously, non-violently, with love for self and for the other. This is one of the ways we hope camp can impact the world: by helping us practice the loving, redemptive non-violence that we see in Jesus. Many thanks to Jeff and Sarete for sharing their wisdom and fun with us!
Spreading the good news of Shrine Mont Camps into the Valley of the World.
The View from the Mountain is written by a rotating cast of staff writers and contributors.