The Power of One

Just what is “The Power of One” and how can we use our personal influence to grow Aikido in our regions. If our art was dying, what could you do to save it?

Throughout history there have been many great leaders, visionaries and people movers. Throughout Aikido’s brief and bourgeoning history, this also remains true. One thing we like about leaders is that they show a passion for what they do. Sometimes, that energy is so catchy that we get carried along with it. It soon develops its own momentum and often we’re not quite sure how it started.

Some leaders have inspired others to become great by being great. On occasion it is the people who are quiet and unassuming, whose contribution to the world turns out to be great.

To give an example of the difference one person can make: about 70 years ago my wife’s Grandfather recognized some talent in a young girl, Agnes, and was able to send her to school out of Albania before the Communist curtain closed. The ramifications of that one decision would not come to fruition for many years, and she may never have been able fulfill her passion and contribution to the world without it.

The Grandfather had no idea what the future held for this young girl, Agnes, but making that single decision left us all with an enduring legacy: the world will forever remember her as Mother Teresa. That is the Power of One.
We may forget that we all have our own influence, should we choose to use it. So why don’t we? We may feel intimidated because we have only recently embarked on our journey, or we want to keep the world’s best secret to ourselves. Whatever the reason we come up with, it comes down to this: unless we have training partners, our Art will die.

The next generation of Aikidoka is that person who started their very first class tonight. We must ensure that they are treated with due respect, as we might view our children. We do not know what great Martial Artist or Sensei of the future is lying dormant within.

They are the leaders of tomorrow’s dojos, should they continue, but they must first be encouraged to walk in the door and start that first class. Once they do, we could be the catalyst for them to find their passion.

We don’t have to be Blackbelts to welcome newcomers onto the mat, because most of the conversations go like this: “You should come along, I’ve only just started but the person who’s teaching us is really amazing.”

Our behaviour should reflect what our art embodies, so that others will want to emulate it. O’Sensei said that “A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind”. My take on this sentiment is, that the way we conduct ourselves reflects our connection with others.

If we are serious about growing our art, and therefore providing uke’s for years to come, then every individual Aikidoka needs to take responsibility for this growth. If we could each attract at least two people who will commit to the art for the long haul (after around 3 years most people really start to understand the potential of Aikido), in 3-5 years we could have doubled student numbers. In 5-10 years that could conceivably treble, or more.

Do we leave it up to our leaders and Sensei to drive Aikido? Or, as proud practitioners, do we tell anyone who cares, why we are practising this wonderful art?

As some of us who have trained for 10 years or more, I think it should be our goal to continually promote the personal benefits of Aikido. We don’t need to be on the lookout for greatness. A simple request to train may suffice. We can all individually utilise the Power of One.

Vance Karena

Roban for Sandan 2012