Who do you think you are? Rather, who do I think I am? Do I have your permission? Do we have permission to judge you? Do we have permission to assist you? So really, it circles back to: Who do I think I am?
I’ve been Yondan, 4th-degree black belt, since 2010. Invariably, since then, upon occasion, a student with far fewer years of training feels compelled to correct my technique when we’re practicing. Oh, yeah. From his or her perspective, I’m doing the technique “wrong”. Generously, 5% of the time the correction is warranted and appreciated. The other 95% of the time: Who the fuck do you think you are?
I don’t pretend to know everything about Aikido. I’m like the less experienced students that I train with. The bigger game is making each other greater than they know themselves to be. Yet, it’s never about being right or making others wrong at the other’s expense.
Over the years I’ve given my unconditional permission to Sensei Dan when he was alive, and to Sensei Bobby to teach me. Like me, they too don’t know everything. Yet, they know enough about helping me to become the greater version of myself. They have my permission. I’m both grateful and honored for that privilege.
Sensei would always say, “Not everything is the same speed.” In the mastery context: Not everything is even. Not everything is equal. When Sensei Bobby tells me to grip the bokken (wooden sword) with my thumb wrapped over the top, I listen. Although, I don’t always do it. My bad. That’s on me.
Sensei used to tell me, “Wait it out. Don’t worry if you take a hit.” That had gravitas. Sensei would know. Not everything is equal. Not everything is fair. That’s just life. In either scenario, Sensei and Bobby have my permission to coach me.
In our culture of free speech and freedom of self-expression that’s all well and good. That’s everyone’s birthright. Everyone has a right to speak and express themselves. Yet, not everyone has permission to be listened to. When you or I are creating our Art, our life, that’s an expression of us, we’re the ones, who choose who’s going to contribute to us. For good or bad.
It can also go both ways. I’ll lead a student through kotegaeshi (wrist lock) by applying the technique to himself and not the opponent, and he doesn’t do it. He doesn’t follow direction. Then I’ll repeat myself, and do my best.
Perhaps, he’s just not being present, which is most likely the case. Or maybe, I don’t have his permission to teach him. I get it. Perhaps, he’ll listen to Sensei Bobby, whom he’s given permission to teach.
Permission becomes the intimate lesson in humility: It just ain’t personal. As long as the dude gets the much-needed instruction or correction, we’re all good. Really.
For almost 25 years, I’d watch Sensei teach beginner students of all ages. The ones who’d do well would try their best to follow Sensei’s instruction. The ones, who didn’t listen, never began to master Aikido. I get it: If they just weren’t paying attention or weren’t being present. If they didn’t give Sensei permission to teach: Then who the fuck do you think you are? Rather, like in an episode of “Kung Fu”: Time for you to leave. Amen.
Everyone deserves your or my respect. Yet, not everyone has your or my permission to be in our listening of them. In our culture of free speech and desiring our voices heard, we need to be mindful whether we’re permitted to be in everyone’s listening of us. As “wise” as you are, that might not always be the case. Here, I’m literally just saying. I don’t know if I have your permitted listening, as well.
It’s been said that we all need to walk a mile in another’s shoes, to get who they are. Perhaps, when you or I speak, we must be mindful whether we have the other’s permitted listening of what we are about to say.
Just a thought. Rather, a notion for your consideration. If I have your permission?
This post was previously published on www.facebook.com and is republished here with permission from the author.