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February 2009

44. We Shihan Sift People to Find the Humans - Part 1

The New Year is under way and we just completed the first of our Quarterly Seminars and now a week later on Monday, after that full day seminar of "brain dump" I've had a chance to sit and ponder on just how I want to address this new topic for a new year so here goes with the first of several parts.

We Shihan sift people to find the humans; what do I mean by that?

First, think about what a dojo is and is not.  Dojo = Way Place.  Dojo does not = MMA studio, health club or sports bar.  Dojo teaches a "way to live" that uses Budo as it's foundation and jujutsu (trans. as "technique" and not specific ryu) as it's methodology.  Part of that methodology includes one part waza, mixed with 2 part philosophy, mixed with 1 part self-defense to achieve a valid mix of mind, body and spirit.

Now think about who is in your dojo ................ is it a professional street fighter? ... a church choir? ... a police tactics class? ... Navy Seal Team 6? ......... Nope, it's likely none of these.

Your dojo likely has a nice mix of well adjusted, mature, curious, forward looking/thinking individuals who want more from Budo-Land than simple self-defense.  They are looking for some way to improve themselves because they are probably a little unhappy with where they are today and recognize the need for positive change and perhaps a more optimistic outlook.  You can train with them and not worry about drawing back a stump or dislocated joint and no matter how hard you train with them, you stay friends and can have a beer after class because you trust them.

Now think about who is NOT in your dojo and why.  Think about the depth of character (or the lack of) and the behaviorial and personality traits (positive and negative) of those who are, and are not, in your dojo.  Consider whether you would have a beer after dojo (apres' dojo) with them much less whether or not you would trust your elbow to their their insecurities and "ethical" outlook on life.

In a nut-shell and in less than 5,000 words, that's the difference between "People" and the "Humans" that we Sensei are looking for. 

"People" are pedestrians who only focus on their needs of the moment, have a marginally acceptable or no apparent ethical foundation from which to make value judgements and who have little to no understanding of what "forward looking" means, much less possess the personal discipline and focus needed to move forward and become a better person; and don't EVEN begin to waste your time talking to them about "Shibumi" because their minds are so small that they can't begin to conceive what that might entail; it's outside their life potential and is such an advanced concept that they can't see it in much the same way as a frog is hard wired to see the shadows of flying predatory birds but can't recognize a human as a threat until you cast a shadow over them.

Their "hard wiring" doesn't allow for a larger view.

"Humans" are obviously (by this point) the opposite of "People" or "Pedestrians".  They look forward, have personal long-term goals and ideas, are always looking for a better idea, are intrigued by "Shibumi" (once it's explained to them), are willing to look inward (at their private persona) and understand who they are so that they can change their outward appearance (their public persona) and behavior; thereby merging their public reputation with their private character so that they become one and the same.

Next, we'll get into some detail and over the next few posts examine the idea of sifting "Humans" to find the Budoka that we are really seeking.  (You didn't actually think I'd stop with mere "Humans" did you?)

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, TX
February 2009