Contributed by Barbara H. Warren, MD, MPH
I am a physician and an Aikido practitioner for the past 27 years. My medical practice consists primarily of Medical Administration, but I also practice as a general internist. I offer my observations from both perspectives.
The practice of medicine and the practice of Aikido come with heavy duties, obligations, and responsibilities. These are proscribed in medicine through rules of licensure, credentialing, monitoring and surveillance. These are not so well described in Aikido. But I believe the practice and teaching we receive educates us to these. Perhaps we need to verbalize them more often.
In medicine, my duty and licensure require me to be adequately trained and licensed and to be able to demonstrate my experience and expertise before assuming care of my patients. This is assured through a process of "credentialing" by which I am afforded privileges to practice based on reviews by others of my documentation.
In Aikido, the process of training and testing and assistant teaching lead to these same credentials. We have every right to expect a legitimately trained instructor.
In medicine, my obligation is to practice ethically and to do no intentional harm to my patients. I must also be vigilant and put in place measures to prevent unintentional harm, i.e. practice safely and in a safe environment. This also means that I may not abuse my patient privilege by crossing ethical boundaries of personal interaction. Think what happens to a doctor, or a teacher, or a priest who touches or exercises physical interaction or emotional interaction that is viewed a s abusive to a client.
In Aikido, I believe we have the same obligations, i.e. to practice within safe and ethical boundaries for the students and colleagues that are entrusted to us by virtue of their presence. We must assure that no physical or emotional abuse takes place and that we do not inadvertently set up conditions in which a practitioner could be harmed. We have a duty to protect one another and our students, if we are teachers.
In medicine, I have the responsibility to make my interactions with my patients satisfying and respectful and helpful. I must show compassion and I am expected to be kind and friendly. Many a patient satisfaction survey has pointed these issues out to physicians who do not try to work with these skills.
In Aikido, I also feel that a healthy dojo environment is one that is filled with students who are joyful, helpful and compassionate with their fellow students. Exclusiveness, unfriendliness, and competitiveness will be sure to leave your dojo with a very bad taste for visitors, and many students who might have stayed with you, but didn't.
So the DUTY to be well qualified, the OBLIGATION to protect, and the RESPONSIBILITY to take good care of each otherÉ. These are the ethical Common Ground for all of the helping professions and Aikido.