Peaceful Conflict Resolution
Our approach is straightforward and easy to learn. We are a group of people from many different backgrounds and communities. We are engaged in an activity that brings us in close contact with each other, in which we can grow closer, make new friends, as well as experience stress and conflict. The dojo is a safe and respectful environment in which to practice solving problems peacefully—invaluable skills for the world outside!
When a conflict occurs, whether one student accidentally pushes another while getting water or makes an insulting or aggressive comment, we ask the students to talk directly with each other, asking a teacher to help if they want.
Begin with yourself, using a sentence that begins with “I,” stating calmly and clearly the behavior that offended you, and if you can, how that behavior made you feel. For example, “I don’t want to be pushed,” or “I don’t like it when you play so rough.”
Do not attack the intention or character of the other child. For example, do not say, “You are mean,” or “You are a bully.” Ask for a change in behavior instead, i.e. “I don’t want you to push me” or “I want you to stop calling me that name.”
Then, if you’re the one who made the mistake (which we all do sometimes!), it’s time to apologize and say that you will do your best to change that particular behavior. The other student then accepts the apology, and you bow to each other to demonstrate your mutual respect.
Of course, conflicts often escalate with both children engaging in aggressive behavior. Then there is no clear “guilty party.” Again, we want the students to communicate to each other directly, taking turns describing their experience and perspective, using “I” statements and a respectful tone.
We encourage each of you to admit your part in the conflict, and notice where you could have made other choices that might have prevented the build up of the problem. There are “two sides to every story,” and it’s important to respect the truth of the other person’s experience.
When you have described your experience and heard the other person’s side, it’s time to apologize, accept the other person’s apology, and bow to each other, communicating your respect and commitment to being friends. Focus on your unity, your shared love of the martial arts, your shared desire to have a safe partnership, and your shared commitment to trying your best to be respectful, careful, and kind.