The politics of complaint. – Kim Taylor, Renshi, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan Iaido Renshi and Roukudan Jodo Renshi

Many people tell me that they are in the martial arts simply to practice, they aren’t interested in the politics. I can sympathize, nobody wants to get involved in the time-suck of trying to defend the arts from those who want to grab “power”. The word power is in quotes because there is no power in the arts, face it, there are barely any arts. We are talking about “empires of dirt”. So let those who want to be in charge, be in charge. I sympathize, I really do. But I very much wish people would live by their words and not complain when things become broken. Of course things will be broken if you don’t get involved, of course organizations will get dragged in directions you don’t want, if you don’t let your opinions be known.

It’s like voting folks, no it’s not “like” voting, it is voting. If you say nothing, you have said yes to whatever those who put themselves in charge decide. If it gets too bad for you to tolerate, you vote with your feet. Only those arts that have world championships have any sort of real, compulsory power over the membership, provided of course, that membership wants to participate in the sport. If you have no ambitions to be world champion, you can content yourself with local tournaments and a local organization. In other words, split from the organization and start your own. Oops, you’re in charge, you may as well have got involved in the politics of the organization you just split from.

The other way organizations have power is to limit access to teachers. Once again, this is your choice, do you worry about what the teachers at the top of the organization think of your budo? Then you should get involved in the local politics or you should simply accept whatever is dictated to you. If the local situation gets bad enough you will vote with your feet and lose your teachers-from-away. You will have your local teacher if he is the one leaving, or you will have yourself if you’re the one leaving, or you find another teacher.

There are loads of them around.

Let me repeat this, if you “only want to practice” you will have no say in how things are run. You will have voted “yes” to whatever is decided for you. If you’re good with that, we’re done talking. Just don’t complain.

That’s not what happens, is it? Those who “just want to practice” will always complain about how things are run. “Others should fix it”, but who are those others? Those who broke things in the first place? Oh blissful dream, oh marvellous world with such wonders in it.

No, I don’t accept that attitude any more. If you “just want to practice”, do that and be quiet. If you want things changed, change them. Don’t complain to those who can’t change things, complain to those who can. Oh dear, now you’re involved in politics aren’t you?

Can we see a difference between gossip and politics? Gossip is complaining over the back fence that “someone should fix it”, politics is saying that to someone in charge.

You can’t avoid politics unless you leave all organizations, formal and informal, and simply practice. So do it. Stop complaining, specifically, stop complaining to those who are not in charge. Stop gossiping.

I have been involved in martial arts for 40 years in 2020. I believe I avoided the politics of martial arts organizations for about four years before being asked to get involved. Since I had beeen involved in student government from High School on through a chunk of University, it wasn’t a hardship, and for the next 35 years I have been in and out of budo politics of one sort or another in several arts. In all that time I’ve seen the vast majority of those participating claim not to want to be involved in politics, but reserve the right to complain. I’ve seen terrible leaders rise to the top because they wanted to be in charge, and nobody else wanted to do the job. I’ve seen people leave those organizations because “the guys in charge are terrible”.

It has never changed, but it never had to happen. I’ve seen great leaders, usually those who didn’t want the job, who were unifiers and pacifiers, who didn’t impose their wills but did what the membership wanted. Never did those leaders have the membership tell them what they wanted, those leaders had to go out and ask. It’s called consultation and it’s common in good leaders, an unknown concept for those who are bad. Why should you ask others when you are convinced you are right? Consultation implies the possibility of being wrong.

Why am I going on about this again? Because once more, I am asking budoka, people who should be taking charge of their environments (from their own selves to their society) and making changes for the better, to take a look at their leadership and the policies those leaders are creating. I am suggesting that all budoka, in all organizations, stop complaining and simply express their opinions about those policies. Do it yourself, don’t expect someone to do it for you.

Failing that, stop complaining, it’s unbecoming of a budoka.

Kim Taylor
Oct 24, 2019
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U. Guelph Japanese Swordsmanship Club (Sei Do Kai): Tues. 9-11pm, Fri. 7-9pm, Sunday 1-4pm.
Contact earlisse@gmail.com for details.

To Shin Kai Jodo/Iaido classes, Clarke Hall, Port Credit, 6-9pm. Nov 25, Dec 16

October 26-27, MJER Kenshokan Koryu iai seminar, Peterborough. Ohmi sensei. Not to be missed.

November 8-10 Annual CKF Fall International Jodo seminar and grading to 3dan. (Fujisaki s. hanshi 8dan, and Rikitake s. kyoshi, 8dan), Mississauga (Port Credit). Registration open now. https://seidokai.ca/jodo_fallseminar.html

2020

March Iaido and Jodo seminars, Port Credit, TBA

Apr 18 – 19. Peterborough Haru Geiko.

May 15-18. Annual CKF Spring International Iaido and Jodo seminar and Jodo grading.

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