Aikido communication

Aikido Communication | Doctoral Research

Ghent University (Belgium) and prof dr Ellen Van Praet gave me the opportunity to start up a doctoral (PhD) research project in January 2019. I have combined the PhD research with teaching at university and will need a track of six years to finish.

The research joins two quite different domains:

  • aikido as a source domain
  • intercultural communication as a target domain

Intercultural communication

A professional person who wants to learn about intercultural communication often ends up in a comparison between countries, cultures and nations. This may be useful and interesting. It is, however, not enough as preparation for intercultural interaction. There is still a need for training courses that offer more than the cognitive transfer of country comparisons.


Aikido is a martial art that deals with attacks in a counterintuitive, unexpected way. Successful aikido interaction typically consists of the following principles:

  • We do not do harm to anyone.
  • We have a tranquil and open attitude.
  • We tune our behaviour to the other person(s).
  • We co-create a new common ground towards a noble outcome. 

Aikido communication

Judging by aikido's principles, there are many similarities between successful aikido interaction and successful intercultural interaction. To investigate this in-depth and scientifically, I interviewed twenty aikido experts in 2020. The findings will feed a pedagogical framework for intercultural business communication training. Such a pedagogy relies on physical movements so as to discover the meaning of aikido through body and mind, i.e. embodied pedagogy. The most important research question:

How does intercultural business communication training benefit from aikido as an embodied pedagogy? 

A qualitative study will investigate aikido-based intercultural business communication training. The end is due around January 2025.

Some research details