Christian Vanhenten

Christian Vanhenten

Trainer, coach, lecturer
Married, 2 children
Engineer, IT specialist, expert in business process modelling and change management
Master in NLP, trained in Ericksonian hypnosis, NVC, Clean Language, EFT, TA,..
Creator of AIKICOM (aikido communication) and META NLP (NLP centered around modeling)
Author of “In Search of Martial Kindness” (in French: “Ne Cessez pas d’être gentils soyez forts”)
4th Grade Aikido (Aikikai Tokyo)
Aikido teacher in his dojo in Namur (Belgium)
Languages: French, English, Dutch, Catalan

Who am I ?

I am a curious about life, an insatiable explorer of its human dimension related to the environment and nourished by the wealth of countless relationships with my relatives, friends, acquaintances and people met at random experiences.

“Living is learning” is the engine that took me on the path that is mine to get closer to who I am.

I followed my way throughout encounters, trainings and readings on the path of change and evolution towards what is essential: the development of our being immersed in everyday life and reality.

My path

The first part of my professional life is marked by pragmatism, technicicty and scientific rigor.
Engineer by training, I oriented my career to IT because of its complex human-technology relationship.
Gradually the technology disappeared to place the human being at the center with his/her complexity and richness.
Who are we? How do we change or not change? How do we interact? How do we make sense of our experiences?
These are some of the main questions that oriented my life as a person as well as a professional.

In the Beginnig, NLP

 NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) was probably the training that influenced (or marked) me the most. I was impressed by the way the theory explores subjective experience. Exploring how we make sense of our lifestyle, and how to develop the means to change that lifestyle was a revelation that helped me to see the world from a different perspective and  become the  creator and actor in my own life.

I was particularly passionate about the concept of modeling.  Modeling seeks to identify effective behavior processes. It is at the heart of the NLP system. In 2001, my studies of this concept led me to define the concept of “Meta NLP” as the study of NLP modeling.

Aikido, from pastime to preparation for life

When I first stepped on the training mat (tatami) of my father’s aikido school (dojo), I could not have imagined that this physical activity would have such an influence on my vision of the world. 

At the time I was only 12 years old and saw aikido as a self-defense practice.  I was not very interested in the rank system because I felt that it detracted from the fundamental spirit of the Art of Aikido. I nevertheless persevered and obtained the rank of 4th dan from Aikikai World Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.

The main purpose for obtaining rank is to provide the organizational structure to support the advancement of the pupils at my dojo in Namur. It is in my Namur dojo that I have worked to discover the principles of this unique martial art as a living system in everyday life, rather than as a set of techniques for self-defense.

Birth of AïkiCom

It was during my first training in Ericksonian hypnosis, led by Stephen Gilligan, a direct student of Milton Erickson, that I had my first insight. Suddenly the years of personal practice of Aikido and this specialized training caused the pieces of my puzzle to come together. The bodily dimension of the practice of Aikido and the ethical principles underlying this art joined together with the knowledge and skills I had discovered and learned in the innumerable seminars and courses that I had followed in the fields of change and personal evolution.

Finally, NLP, Ericksonian hypnosis (and especially the self-relations therapy created by Stephen Gilligan), non-violent communication, and many other related approaches have transformed my vision of Aikido and led me to create AikiCom as a global approach to being.

AïkiCom was born from this complex NLP modeling of the practice of Aikido

Recommandation de Christian Vanhenten par Stephen Gilligan Ph.D.

Pass it on

It was in 2011 that I made the choice to devote myself full-time to the development of AïkiCom, training, and coaching.

In 2014, I published the book “Ne cessez pas d’être gentils soyez forts”  (“Do not stop being nice, be strong”) which describes the principles of AikiCom. An English translation, “In Search of Martial Kindness : Discovering the Aiki Attitude for Everyday Life, was published in 2016, accompanied by a new edition of the French version.

 For me, developing and disseminating the AïkiCom program is a commitment, to pay back everyone that I had the opportunity to meet with, practice with, learn from, and experience. It seems to me, more than ever before, a necessity to help transform our dualistic, paternalistic, competitive, egocentric way of life and thought to a nurturing, empathic mindset that encourages cooperative relationships. We must remember that we are interconnected and interdependent.

I am excited to share this approach of martial kindness. This approach to living and life  is so critical in today’s world.  Those who want to live in accordance with these new values of kindness and compassion must be able to assert their personal power to remain strong in the face of the dominant competitive paradigm, a paradigm that often see kindness only as a form of weakness or naïveté.

Kindness Activist

In 2009, I joined the US association Aiki Extensions, an organization founded to promote the development of Aikido applications “outside of the dojo”, the traditional place of aikido practice . I became a member of the board of directors and I contributed to the development of International Aiki Peace Week, a project which invites aikido dojos from all over the world to focus their practice on peace for one week. Since 2013, I have contributed to the development of Peace Dojo International, an international network of Peace Dojos.

In 2014, I created a new association called Applied Aikido Association which aims to create a network of peers who are dedicated to the development of aikido applications in everyday life, at home, with one’s family, at school, at work, etc.

An Aiki Life

The root meaning of the term “Aiki” (*) represents an embodied way of life, a way of approaching life’s annoyances and conflicts without opposition and acting to transform opposition into opportunity.

When this practice is integrated into everyday life, everyday life is transformed. Since the creation of AïkiCom, I consistently strive to live in accordance with its principles. We live in a difficult world. Fostering this martial dimension gives us energy to defend our values and to promote lifestyles that are centered around the paradigm of connection, empathy, eco-psychology, and spirituality. Living in this manner helps to rebuild our community, our society, as a natural part of a whole. AïkiCom reminds me every day that these beautiful words have meaning only if they materialize daily, in the minutiae, whether in minor annoyances or major crises of life. That’s what drives me and pushes me to share it

(*) Aiki comes from Japanese aiharmony, concordance, benevolence—and ki,which is the energy of life that sets us in motion. Aikican be understood as the mobilization of our energy to restore benevolence, to reconcile, and to re-harmonize