The experienced practitioner of Aikido learns to blend with his attacker. Physically, it involves getting out of the way, then ‘blending’ or ‘shadowing’ (looking in the same direction as your attacker for a moment), while feeling the energy, power, and momentum that they’re bringing to the situation.
Blending allows us to move without direct conflict. We don’t overreact and add ‘fuel to the fire’, but use only the energy and power required for the situation, and nothing more. No one gets hurt. Once again, when we’re in the classroom, ‘blending’ isn’t a physical move, but a psychological one.
Several years ago, I watched in awe as a veteran principal blended with a disgruntled teacher who had been challenging some of the ideas being discussed during his school’s staff development program. The teacher was clearly frustrated, and eventually blurted out angrily,
“I’d like permission to leave. This program is stupid and it’s not relevant. I’d rather go back to my classroom and do some lesson planning.”
The presenter reacted as if he’d been punched in the stomach, and the entire staff looked stunned. The principal, who was sitting in the back of the room, broke the ensuing silence and spoke in a measured and sincere manner,
“We’re not asking for you to adopt every idea that’s being presented in the program. But why not give it till the lunch break and see if there might be a few things that you can use to help you?”
The teacher protested, “I’ve got better things to do with my time.”
The principal continued to blend, “You’ve already brought a lot to the program by challenging some of the ideas (the presenter) has brought forth. I think you surfaced a few thoughts that some in the group may have been thinking about, but weren’t willing to verbalize. We need people like you, with different points of view, to be active and vocal so that the learning here is real. The worst thing that could happen is we leave this session and have the real discussion and questions relegated to complaints in the teachers’ room.”
The principal sat quietly looking at the angry teacher, who was surprised by the principal’s openness. His face began to soften and the moment opened in possibility.
The teacher nodded his head, “If you think it will help, I’ll give it a try.”
The veteran principal smiled warmly, “It will. Thanks.”
I’d never seen a ‘blend’ done so well anywhere outside of an Aikido dojo.
The principal was clearly a master teacher.