Reintroducing Aikido: Summit LA19

On November 8-11, I will have the opportunity to represent the art of Aikido at Summit LA19, one of the world’s preeminent idea festivals. Fellow presenters include Dara Khosrowshahi (CEO, Uber), Gwynne Shotwell (President and COO, SpaceX), Reid Hoffman (Co-founder and Executive Chairman LinkedIn), Harrison Ford (Actor and Vice Chair, Conservation International), Grandmaster Flash (legendary DJ and music Producer) and many other distinguished entrepreneurs, business leaders, scientists, civic leaders, philanthropists, and artists.

This will be a great opportunity to share a new perspective on the art of Aikido with some of the key thought leaders and influencers of our time.

While the Aikido community possesses great diversity, one thing almost everyone agrees on (at least in the United States) is that we’ve struggled to tell the story of our art in a compelling way that connects with non-practitioners, especially younger generations. The community survey we conducted earlier this year indicates that in the United States, over 80% of practitioners have passed the age of 40 with only 5% under the age of 30.  Those of us who practice tend to stick with it as life long endeavor. We love Aikido and intuitively understand the unique kind of magic it brings to our lives. But we’ve faced a formidable challenge in finding a way to frame our art in a way that excites and resonates with today’s society.

My challenge for this event has been to take what I’ve learned from my nearly 30 years of Aikido practice, along with the wisdom and insights I’ve gained from everyone in the Aikido community whom I’ve had the opportunity to interact with, and use it to formulate a “big idea” around Aikido that’s worthy of presenting to the Summit community.

photos by Anne Lee

Constructing an interpretation of Aikido that can fulfill this objective has been one of the most challenging and rewarding endeavors of my Aikido career. I expect this will be a great learning experience, and I hope to be able to frame the art in a way that builds new enthusiasm and respect for the art we love so dearly.  If we are successful, we will have gleaned valuable feedback from some of the world’s most forward-thinking and accomplished leaders across a range of disciplines. And hopefully we’ll gain some new allies who will help us as thought-partners and collaborators.

I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude and respect to Stan Pranin, founder of Aikido Journal, for entrusting me with its future and putting me in a position to learn and grow so much. I’d also like to thank the great leaders of Aikido who have so generously provided me with their wisdom and guidance, along with each and every member of the Aikido community who has shared their perspective and experiences (good and bad) with me. I hope I’ll be able to make the Aikido community proud. I’d also like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Summit team for allowing me to present and share the martial art of Aikido at this truly special event.

I look forward to updating everyone on the event. In the near future, I’ll also have more exciting news to share about another very important project.

Josh Gold

Executive Editor, Aikido Journal

Josh Gold

Executive Editor of Aikido Journal and co-founder of Ikazuchi Dojo.

9 comments

  • Great idea Josh. I remember seeing a TED talk based on aikido. Not sure what impact it had in the long run but there definitely needs to be a concerted effort to widen the participation in aikido. One key element is to show that aikido is both non-aggressive but can be effective when refined through rigorous testing of technique. Too many practitioners I feel pursue a kind of aikido that lacks martiality and the type of training we do can lead to complacency at best and self-delusion at worst, leaving aikido open to the sorts of criticisms regularly rehearsed by MMA and other more aggressive styles. The lesson that effective technique comes from not engaging with the force of an attacker is also a lesson with wide applicability to everyday life. Good luck with your presentation.