Peace Practices In Progress

 

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Take part in a dream come true that is getting ready to change the world!

 

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Since beginning to perform in professional theater as a six-year-old Montessori child, Brandon WilliamsCraig has wanted to understand conflict through practice and performance. Aikido and liberal, psychological, and cultural studies gave him the engine to move this process forward and Association Building Community provided the context wherein his method, Martial Nonviolence, has found its expression in the Peace Practices curriculum.

 

Pacific Rim International School provided the visionary commitment to launch the entire Peace Practices process in the San Francisco Bay Area, which made possible the receipt of international funding and a future which includes both national and international expansion. The dream that one boy inherited from his family, from Montessori, from Paul Baker's ensemble at the Dallas Theater Center, and from his local community became a vision and opportunity. Rather than "peace" becoming passive or a recommendation for other people, Martial Nonviolence practices the language and presence of peace as though it were both a physical martial art and a way of  thinking and communicating deeply, as a life practice, shared with each generation, elder and younger learning together in Community.

 

Aikido changes the purpose of the martial arts to focus on redirection and preservation, even of an attacker, so that the cycle of violence is dismantled instead of being reinforced through retribution against individuals or groups. Aikido 2.0 teaches language with every physical technique, because communication is where conflict happens most frequently in today's world.

Martial Nonviolence integrates the movements of aikido with the language and mind of Aikido 2.0, and takes the practice to a realistic and professional level through improvisation and facilitation training that puts Conflict Done Well in the context of sustainable and inspirational leadership.  

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For instance, it is possible to execute a technique with muscle, trying to overpower an enemy, and have it fail, and then learn to deploy it by blending with your partner, without forcing, and have it succeed. Getting out of the way of an "attack" can become encouraging your partner to continue their movement, paired with the phrase "tell me more..." (see the photo with the two girls).  A listening quality helps to make this transition, so the most common technique in aikido is paired with the spoken words "I'm listening".  In this way the child or adult learns deeply through repetition that they can be prepared for both physical and intangible forms of conflict. They also learn that their body and mind can remain balanced and focused, generating options that can work well for everybody, even when they are under serious inner and outer pressure. This addresses bullying, low self-esteem and creates conflict facilitators who expect to engage individual, group, and systemic violence with peaceful proposals on their lips, in their hands, and in their hearts.

 

Martial Nonviolence Introduction+For Parents

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Parents, staff, faculty, and alumni are warmly invited to attend classes, and many do. They want to know what the children are learning, prepare themselves to be good partners in practicing peace, and judge for themselves if the curriculum is effective. They also will be asked to participate in our studies, and often become quite enthusiastic about tracking their child's and family's progress. 

 

The children bring home what they practice during the day and carry back into the classroom the realities of their family life. Peace Practices are designed as Whole Community Learning because this reality of inter-dependence cannot be escaped and is both frustrating and the ideal fertile ground in which to cultivate the success of everyone involved.

 

What about practicing at home, on the playground, and other places outside of the dojo?

 

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We make very clear that the physical part of the practice must happen in an environment specially prepared for the work. The following guidelines get consistent repetition:

  • Basic practice is careful and slow for quite a while. Please don't play at fast aikido with your friends. Wait to train in the dojo.
  • To practice, both people must agree, knowing what permission they are giving. If you don't ask first, or somebody doesn't know what they are saying, wait to practice.
  • If there in no soft place on the floor, like mats or padded carpet, wait to practice falling down (ukemi) until you are in the dojo.

What about being attacked by other children?

If someone attempts to hit or grab you, please get out of the way and call an adult right away. Children test their power on each other all the time, with and without martial arts. Minor injuries are common and, in our experience, do not increase with the study of martial arts. We repeat frequently the phrase "aikido protects" and make clear that this includes even those who might seem threatening or aggressive.

 

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What about the practices involved, like hitting and imagining attacks?

Children take to heart and carry with them between school and home what they learn and imagine. Some parents believe that their child might not have conceived of physical conflict until introduced to it in our classes. This is extremely unlikely and, even if it were to happen, is the best possible introduction to a problematic dilemma. The big shift we propose is from saying "Don't Hit!", which does little good in the long term, to making clear that the dojo is the place to learn what hitting is about, with teachers who are attentive and friends who have agreed to stop when asked, and how to make that kind of aggression at least less threatening and at best irrelevant. 

 

Do I need to sign a waiver for my child every session?

Waivers need to be signed for ever particpant (adult and child alike) once to cover all of their future particaption in Peace Practices.

 


 

 

 

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Thanks very much for your attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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