Aikido and Co-creative Practice

By Mark Bradford.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The art of Aikido involves more than just learning a set of techniques – it’s a commitment to a way of being in the world. Aikidoka are encouraged to consider the techniques and extend this new knowledge beyond the dojo (a space for studying a ‘dō’ or ‘way’). This paper explores the conceptual possibilities of blending Aikido theories with collaborative design processes, beyond the conventional dojo setting, within a design context.

In an increasingly cross-disciplinary future, designers need new process leadership skills in order to successfully collaborate within social and collective contexts. Through the theoretical lens of grounded theory methodology, the research investigates the Aikido dojo as a case study site for an exemplary community of practice: a space where people engage in a collective practice for learning and transformation. In order to understand these implications a series of semi-structured interviews were undertaken with leading international Shihan* at the ‘New Zealand Aikikai* 40th Anniversary Gasshuku’ in 2010. The findings weave together a range of perspectives in order to begin developing a framework for thinking about ‘co-creative practice’ – interlinking theory and action – as an embodied theory of co-creation.

Keywords: Co-creative Practice, Co-creation, Communities of Practice, Aikido, Design Leadership, PhD

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.407-418. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 6.737MB).

Mark Bradford

Senior Lecturer, College of Creative Arts, Toi Rauwharangi, School of Design, Institute of Communication Design, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

I am an interdisciplinary designer interested in investigating the ways visible language intersects with the world. I have comprehensive experience in Graphic Design, Brand Identity, and e-Commerce. My current research at Massey University traverses both applied and theoretical design knowledge, cross-pollinating long-term interests in crossdisciplinary thinking and design leadership. In 2008 I enrolled part-time in a PhD in Design (full registration gained in November 2009) exploring the possibilities for design leadership inherent in the practice and philosophy of the martial art of Aikido. My research focuses on ‘how’ we think, as opposed to purely ‘what’ we think, and examines the extent to which the skills and pedagogical methods of Aikido can lead and transform co-creation within the context of design.


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