Finding Center

image credit: Laurie Alessandra

This past month CXC launched a pilot program called 3|ONE, a centering practice based on jo kata–a martial arts form that uses a wooden staff for self-defense. In jo kata one practices a series of moves against an invisible opponent by using thrusts, strikes and other defensive postures.

Unlike standard jo kata, 3|ONE is designed specifically from the ground up, for progressive organizations and social changes agents and is focused on principles and practices of leadership and transformative change. It’s a practice that reveals our habit-patterns so we can begin to alter them and embody “more effective leadership, collaboration, and team building.”

I spent a few minutes talking to Zochi Alonzo Young, one of the trainers for the program and longtime martial artist, about how 3|ONE is helpful for agents and organizations of social change.

Simha: What is 3|ONE?

Zochi: 3|ONE is an adaptation from the 31 jo kata, an Aikido form that was developed by Ueshiba Morihei. The adaptation basically uses the principals of alignment, breath, and center as tools to teach leadership using the jo.

Simha: I know both forms look the same in action, so how is 3|ONE different from jo kata?

Zochi: There’s a huge difference between jo kata and 3|ONE.  Jo practice was developed in Aikido for self-defense. 3|ONE is practiced using the same form but the emphasis is on the principals and theories underneath the form and how these principles can be applied in the work of social justice. Its focus is on providing assessment tools for leadership, groups and organizations.

Simha: I see. So you’ve mentioned that in the pilot class there’s someone with a lot of jo kata experience. How is the class for him? Does anything seem redundant?

Zochi: No. He’s coming to the practice from a different perspective. He’s getting a chance to notice things about himself that he doesn’t when doing the jo as a martial arts practice.

The first thing he noticed was that he could take something he’d been practicing for a number of years and for the first time apply it in the real world. And just a note about why that is, Aikido is considered an art of peace, but it never extends beyond the community that practices the art. With 3|ONE we’re actually peeling back the practice of defense so that people can apply the deeper principals and practices to their work and life.

Simha: Can you tell me why the Transformative Change is offering this practice?

Zochi: It’s a tool that organizations can use as a way to physically demonstrate how teams work and what happens when they don’t work well. It’s also a leadership tool. Leaders can use this to do an assessment of themselves, which they can then translate from what they do physically into what they do at work.

Simha: Can you give an example?

Zochi: Sure. In one of the first exercises that we do, we ask participants to sit in a still position without losing their center. Most of them find their minds wander and they can’t stay centered.

Since movements are about a group of people moving in a direction to accomplish a goal while remaining centered, the practice of  3|ONE, which focuses on alignment breath, center and grace, lets participants see their default patterns and behavior, which may be hindering them from accomplishing the actions they wish to see in the world. As the class progresses they can see their physical patterns and can recognize that they practice these patterns in other places in their lives and work. For example they might say, “Oh, I do that at work. I don’t step all the way in or am not fully committed; I don’t fully engage in conversations. Or, I don’t advocate from a centered place.”

3|ONE uses a variety of exercises, dyads, and awareness practices for the individual to reveal what we practice unconsciously in order to reveal what’s underneath our patterns.

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During the course, 3|ONE trainers (Zochi Alonzo Young and angel Kyodo williams) work with small groups of folks who have background practicing jo kata as well as those who don’t but would like to come from a more sustainable, centered place in their work and life. Look for updates on our Web page (link) to learn more about when the course will be offered on a regular basis.

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