What Aikido taught me about App development and business

This post is very much about attitude.

As you might know, I’m a passionate practitioner of the Japanese martial art Aikido. Currently I’m injured and not able to train, which is why I was viewing the training last Friday when a guest teacher taught in one of the Dojos I regularly train at. The training was great and some things made me think about Aikido and the things one can learn in order to be a better developer and businessman. Here are three things I have learned:

Optimism beats pessimism

Some people say “when you are a pessimist, you either are right again or being surprised positively”. That might be true, still I think it’s way better to think positive. Being truly optimistic becomes like a self fulfilling prophecy. Because you think things will work out in a way that is good for you, they do. Your work becomes better, quality wise and quantity wise, and is much more fun. Same in martial arts: Training (keiko) does not need to be hard nor do you. If you are softer (soft, not slack!) keiko becomes much more demanding as you are able to perceive more and hence work harder on yourself. It also becomes much more fun for your partner, especially when she or he is still a beginner.

Make the next step

There are moments when you are realizing that what you just did was not good. In Aikido this happens for example when you realize that the technique you just did was not well executed. When you are hesitating here, your partner will overwhelm you. Instead, you should make the next step. You should realize that something went wrong but not let it intercept your move. No matter what time it is, it is always now, right? It never is tomorrow and never is yesterday. So in one sentence: Even though things are not working out perfectly, you should move on.

Be humble and thankful

Success sometimes leads people to the thought that they accomplished what they did on their own. Of course they did not. Think about an successful app: Would it be successful without all the users, the critics, the development teams? Our success is always dependent on the kindness of other beings. Therefore, a humble and thankful attitude is a good thing. Especially when it comes to negative feedback one should see the opportunity for improvement and answer the user in a good manner.


As you can see, martial arts don’t only affect one’s body. Please feel free to tell your story and thoughts in the comments.



  1. Those are some great insights. I also practice martial arts, and can relate to what you’re saying there. Particularly the positive attitude and moving on forward are things that I’ve found very helpful. If you sit back and analyse forever, constantly trying to please everyone & make sure you never receive negative feedback, you’ll be stuck in the same place forever. Sometimes just recognising a mistake is important, and then moving on & learning from the experience, without letting the “failure” become obsessive.

    • Great to get to know an other martial artist dev!
      I think it’s about accepting oneself and the fact that one is not perfect. To know that striving for perfection is good although it can never be reached which is good also.

  2. Sounds interesting, would have read more if there were fewer spelling mistakes

    • Hi Tony,
      my apologies for that. I’m not a native English speaker and hence my English is far from perfect. Please feel yourself invited to give me any English related advice you want.
      Best regards

  3. I am newbie in app development.I don’t have much experience in Java.I am planning on Windows platform.Please give me some advice on some easy tutorials/ web resources so that I can get started?

    • Hello,
      a good point to start with Android in general is the official Android Dev Guide or a book like Professional Android 2 Application Development by Reto Meier. Depending on your Java skills it would be a good thing to dive a bit deeper into that too, for example with one of the official Oracle Java Tutorials (I didn’t try them but assume they are good).
      I hope this helps.
      Best regards

  4. Interesting and inspirational article. Thank you.

  5. Hello Johannes,

    Nice post.

    I’m a developer android in VN , I also learn Aikido for 5months, but your post is meanful with me.
    I also want to make a connection with you to discuss about Android and Aikido via email.

    Thanks & best regards,

  6. Hello, nice post. I’m from Ukraine and also android developer and learn aikido more than one year in school KANO (partition of CSMBDA – international school),….. Johannes please tell me answer for advertising qustion if you can: may madvertise advertising for android translate in code without using xml.main, I’m create game with one Avtivity but all code writing without using xml files) P.S. I’m not professional developer and my english is not perfect…… link for my first game: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.devownapps.TicTacToeGuts

  7. I just stumbled upon this blog and the articles here. All of it is very great. I am a developer too, and heavily into fighting arts [full contact] as well as considerable, noticeable amount of muscle building. I practice Shotokan, mostly because it suits my mental setup my personality the best and the closest. For me, when I practice my Katas, it is ‘meditation in motion’ for me as I see nothing else, feel nothing else but only the emission of my own energy, my force, and of course, all the energy that surrounds me. And I absorb it inside me. Every single neurone from the tip of my toe to the ones at the highest point on my temple, each of them connected, synchronised and emitting/receiving input uninhibited, spontaneous, smooth like a fountain. I can literally feel even the hair on every point of my body. Nothing compares. I have also fought for need of money, its unsanctioned, “illegal”, “underground” full contact match-ups; I use Shotokan as well as orthodox, association boxing as my “weapons”. And yes, after I recuperate, heal, I do sit down to scribble some code too; back at work …. .. it’s a strange, quite off-beat, non-ideal, a little “shady” life even .. . but it’s eventful, it gives me moments and it gives me memories ..

    yes, it’s good to know there are others like me too. I get to know myself more and more and more with each passing face-off, and it teaches me to keep grounded, stay humble and keep greed, want, all desires 5000 clicks away. Successfully.

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