Friday, April 30, 2010


I was annoyed looking at the rows in front of me and my neighbour beside me... waving people through even though the gap is in front of him directly. I thought, this guy is irritating. Not only was he black berrying away during the Khutbah, and now he's not taking responsibility for filling up the gaps. Making others work for him, what he should be doing himself.

A brief intention to tell him something crossed my mind and then, I thought to myself, what would sensei do? Thinking about it, he would have either filled the gap himself or remain silent. Ah, a slap on my ego.

This reminded me about his lecture one time... his father told him that he doesn't expect him to be rich and give him money, or to be famous or to be a politician, an engineer or anything like that. He asked him only to be a leader. In anything he does, be it a floor sweeper, an office worker or whatever it is he does, he must be a leader.

To some people, that will construe taking the easy road. After all, you're not asking him to be a corporate magnate, anyone can be a leader of a trishaw puller right? Instead, think about it. One of the things a leader has is responsibility not only of himself but to his followers and people who are affected by him. A leader of a nation is responsible for his legion of administrators and executives but also to his citizens and neighbours. A leader bears the sins of all those under him. If they have done wrong, the leader has done wrong because he has not led his people to a better way. Being a leader, if you're a muslim, is very hard. That is why, seldom are those who would vie to be a leader, at least for those who are learned. They all know of the fate of a leader should he do wrong or should he fail to lead well. Yet, ironically, the learned also know it is expected of them to be a leader. It is a decree that they lead well for the sake of the people and the world. The animals and environment requires salvation, and human beings are the leaders who can defend their right to exist.

Yet it is cruel to see how unreasonable today's so called leaders are. How they think less of people and more of their own status and their family and friends.

So what has this go to do with Aikido? A leader does not order people around, he leads. Try and force your workers to do as you want, and you will see that will be the quickest way towards dissent. Similarly, the practice of Aikido is for the immediate harmony with your opponents, the universe even. Stop. Don't think about leading the sun, just try to lead a goat instead and see how you fare if you force it do something.

How can that happen if you're not a leader. If you just follow? You lead your opponent with the mind, not force him. You cannot follow from his strike, its power or direction. You need to lead him from the start. This spirit of leadership is important. Understanding that you lead and not force is also important. Believing in this path throughout your practice is important.

A martial artist does not have to wait to be a black belt to step up and be a leader. As long as you've put your mind to learn, and you've step through that door in the dojo, you have to lead. As a sempai, as a kohai, as a seasoned veteran or a raw beginner. You have chosen a path of enlightenment, it is your duty to lead.

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