Aikido Mark began studying the Japanese martial art of aikido a number of years ago as a way to help improve his work with horses. The word Aikido translated means “the way of harmony”.
Aikido is a defensive art that emphasizes entering into and blending with an attacker’s energy, then directing that energy to the most peaceful solution possible using circular movement as the means of direction. Sometimes the most prudent solution is simply directing the attacker harmlessly off in an unexpected direction. Sometimes it might be something much more dramatic. In either case the ultimate goal for the aikidoist is to bring even the most difficult or dangerous situation to a harmonious conclusion.
Mark uses the core principals of aikido - staying centered, entering in, blending with, and using circular movement - daily in his horsemanship. He is constantly looking for quiet but effective ways to blend with a horse’s energy - whether that energy is wanted or unwanted - in order to help the horse understand what is being asked of it.
Mark holds a second degree black belt in Yoshinkan Aikido, and when he isn’t traveling around the country performing horsemanship clinics, he trains and teaches the art in a dojo in his hometown of Estes Park, Colorado.
Mark has written extensively about his work with aikido and horsemanship in his book, Horsemanship Through Life. Other books worth looking into on the subject are The Way of Aikido, by George Leonard, and Mastery, also by George Leonard.