Movements that expect their nonviolent actions to be met with violence, and are concerned to avoid violent reactions by their own activists, often try to prepare themselves for such confrontations. However, nonviolence training has come to involve much more than that – a range of activities embracing personal empowerment, group formation, campaign planning, strategy development, and preparation and evaluation of protests.
Preparation for nonviolent action can be understood as part of a wider nonviolent lifestyle. Gandhi, who stressed the need for self-discipline, believed it would best be acquired through taking part in constructive activities. Today’s activists are more likely to stress the importance of empowerment for engaging in nonviolent action. But they also see this as an attitude underpinning everyday behaviour.
Many materials used in nonviolent training overlap with other types of workshops – conflict transformation, pedagogy of the oppressed (Paolo Freire), theatre of the oppressed (Agosto Boal), nonviolent communication (Marshall Rosenberg), or the Alternatives to Violence programmes on institutional and domestic violence. Nonviolent action training has evolved, depending on what seems useful and practical in diverse contexts. Therefore workshop leaders have been eclectic in choosing and developing methods, using whatever works in their experience and culture.
This section does not cover all aspects of preparation, such as the technical practicalities of some forms of protest (tripods, lock-ons); nor does it cover legal issues. But two relevant sources for these are: