1. I am the Sensei thy Lord, thou shalt have no other Teachers before me.
2. Thou shalt not take the name of O’Sensei in vain.
3. Remember to participate in the National Seminars.
4. Honor thy Senpai and Koai.
5. Thou shalt not kill (nor break bones).
6. Thou shalt not commit impure techniques (and with the use of force).
7. Thou shalt not steal (dan, things and students).
8. Thou shalt not bear false witness (especially against your CV).
9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s Dan rank.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s tatami.
These 10 commandments put light on all those situations in which sooner or later we find ourselves practicing a martial art.
The first commandment highlights the behavior of the teacher (with a lowercase “t”) which imposes an absolute prohibition on his students to go to classes or seminars held by other teachers. This absolutely unjustified and unjustifiable commandment, in my opinion, shows the insecurity of that teacher who fears comparisons. In order to avoid comparisons between what he teaches and what others teach, he prefers to dictate imperative rules and absolute prohibitions pouring them down from above as if God himself imposed them. Needless to advise those students to escape as far as possible from that type of teacher.
The second commandment is intended to advise prudence in recalling phrases and anecdotes from the founder of the discipline if you are not that sure of what you are reporting. Nowadays even a child is able to do some research on the Web and realize the many “gaffes” that are made on the tatami. Therefore it is better to say concepts born from one’s own mind and experience than to make badly trained parrots. A sentence said in a simple and convincing way has more incisiveness than a poorly recited poem in Japanese.
The third commandment reminds all Aikidoka that being part of a community involves honors and burdens. It is nice to be able to give more weight to your own seminar with the logo and label of the Federation, but if you are absent from the annual training event for teachers and technicians it’s a bit like wanting to be part of a jury without even knowing the idea of what will be judged. In the end, it is enough to have a little consistency between what you do and what you really are.
The fourth commandment reminds us all that, regardless of our current rank, we will always have mates to respect with more experience than us (Senpai) and companions to protect with less experience than us (Koai). By honoring our companions we will also honor ourselves and our growth path.
The fifth commandment reminds us that in many, if not all, legal frameworks, murder is severely punished. Therefore, even if we learn effective and powerful techniques, it is good to remember that the application of these deadly techniques must be proportionate to the survival skills of our practice partner (Uke) even if we are under test stress. I believe that the mates who accept to be our Uke for the exams should be considered Saints immediately!
The sixth commandment underlines the need of concentration during the execution of the techniques we are learning. Many techniques take advantage of the strength of the joint levers and our partner can get hurt because of our inability to listen and feel the limitations of others. We often adjust the imperfection of our techniques with the use of force. Too easy! Our practice partner, in order not to suffer under our leverage, certainly will not hinder the poorly done execution of the technique and we will believe ourselves to be the great sons of O ‘Sensei (I apologize for violating the second commandment). The opportunity will come sooner or later when a partner stronger than us and with a very high pain threshold will make us understand how little our techniques are effective. And it is at that moment that we should understand that fighting using force is like making an own goal. Therefore less strength and more precision. Less to do and more to be!
With the seventh commandment, it is recalled that the shown action is a real martial crime. Joking aside, it’s laughable. It is counterproductive to try to grab the students of the neighbor. Rather, it is better to collaborate among nearby Dojos and allow their students to have common experiences. Unity is a strength for both schools!
The eighth commandment refers to the behavior of those who pretend to be eighth and ninth dan (often self-awarded) or pretend to be students of the most popular Sensei of the moment. I repeat, it is a matter of time: shortly the curtain of smoke disappears and a scorched roast remains with some feathers still attached. If you want to be appreciated by others, do it through the disclosure of our splendid martial discipline and not through high grades on paper but then insignificant on the tatami.
With the ninth commandment, attention is paid to the constant danger of wanting to be better and more beautiful than others. We do not seek comparison with the path of others but, rather, we always try to be a little better than ourselves the day before. We do not waste our time fostering hate wondering why there are those who have high degrees recognized (by whom then?) who prove to be poor in Aikido with words and gestures… My value is what I actually am and do and not what others are and do. The useful question to ask is: am I improving myself with my Martial Art?
With the tenth and last commandment, we remember that in the world there will always be a more beautiful dojo and a softer and more fragrant mat to fall on. This should not make us feel jealous rather should give us a starting point to dream of our Dojo and our tatami. My wish for you and me is that our tatami is always full of people in love with life and happy to grow together with their companions and their sensei.
Enjoy your practice!