Verbal Judo - Redirecting Behavior With Words

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Author: George J. Thompson & Michael J. Stroud
Pub: 1984
Pages: 109
Ranking:One star Rating
In Print: Buy Now!


I purchased this book based on the title. You won't, of course, learn any Judo from this book. It's a book on communication skills, avoidance of 'verbal' conflict. I'm only including this review in the hopes that you won't make the same mistake...


 Chapter                                      Page
        Prologue: The Lesson of the Willow ... 1
    1 The Limits of Force .................... 4
    2 The Language of Guidance ............... 9
    3 The Language of Motivation ............ 18
    4 The Language of Persuasion ............ 33
    5 The Language of Supervision ........... 43
    6 The Language of Negotiation ........... 56
    7 The Language of Reassurance ........... 69
    8 The Language of Enforcement ........... 78
    9 The Language of Punishment ............ 87
   10 The Gentle Way of Words .............. 101


The Lesson of the Willow

Verbal Judo is a series of tactics based on the principle of nonresistance. Rather than confront another's antagonism, Verbal Judo teaches us to turn aggressiveness aside and to use the other's energies to achieve positive goals.

While the tactics of Verbal Judo may seem new, the underlying principle of nonresistance was first stated almost 1,300 years ago. According to legend, a Japanese physician named Shirobei Akiyama discovered that precept during a retreat at the temple of Tenji.

Dr. Akiyama had entered the temple after an extensive stay in China. There he had studied Taoism, and had accepted the ethical principles of that philosophy-principles that stressed quietism, balance, and equilibrium with the world around.

Now, he was deeply troubled by an apparent contradiction between his beliefs and his experience. While the doctrine of peaceful balance appealed to him, he could not apply it to situations of conflict and strife. Again and again he struggled with the problem:

How can such a lesson apply to my people? We are a small nation, easily overwhelmed by superior force. The principles of the Tao would lead to our destruction, for how can any aggression be defeated, save through even greater aggressiveness? How can the Tao help us defeat a superior force?

During each of the 100 days of his retreat, Dr. Akiyama walked through the nearby woods, wrestling with his dilemma. Each day he sought the answer by interpreting the natural events he observed. Near the end of his stay at Tenji, he walked along his familiar path, now transformed by a heavy snowfall, and stopped before a large willow tree. At his feet, the doctor noticed numerous broken branches, still encased in sleeves of ice and snow. Above him, however, all was different. Many of the willow's wands, free of any covering, swayed gently in the chill breeze. He sensed that the scene before him somehow contained the answer he sought:

Nature is the most powerful of opponents. No one can conquer it. Victory over such an enemy can mean only continued survival, not triumph.

Dr. Akiyama shuddered as a clump of wet snow fell on his unprotected neck. He looked up to see a willow branch whip into the sky. At once he knew that he had found his answer:

Now I see! These branches that lay broken before me were strong and resolute. They stood firm and resisted the opposing forces of nature. When the wet snow fell on them, they bore the weight without flinching.

While their resistance seems heroic, it was self-destructive. For when the enemy is inexorable, as is the snow, these strong branches are doomed by the weight that accumulates-accumulates until they break beneath it.

But these wands that sway above me are delicate and supple. They cannot resist. They give way to their opponent, nature, and shed their killing burden. The weaker combatant survives - and thus wins - by turning force aside, rather than by resisting.

And so must be the ways of nations and tbose in personal com-bat. No resistance can ever defeat a superior force. Only suppleness will lead to true victory.

The lesson read in nature that snowy day was to become a new doctrine. Dr. Akiyama opened a school that remained in existence for centuries. He named it yoshinryu, "the heart of the willow". There he adapted ancient principles of unarmed combat-principles from India, China, and other nations - to create the art of jujitsu.

Dr. Akiyama's simple truth has endured for 13 centuries. Each new era has reinterpreted that lesson in response to new opponents and unforeseen sources of aggression. The most recent revision led to the art of judo, begun in 1882 by Dr. Jigoro Kano, an educator who had studied at Oxford. Verbal Judo is but a new application of the willow's truth.

The principles of Verbal Judo are based on the principles of physical judo, and some of the tactics of Verbal Judo parallel those of physical judo. The descriptions of the physical tactics in each chapter, however, are intended to enhance understanding of the verbal techniques, not to teach the art of judo.


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