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Ueshiba Aikido e-Reflections
ISSN 1712-2341
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Nov 09, 2011

"How do we know if we are who we say we are?
... By our children. "

Rabbi Barak Cohen, Victoria, BC

The question posed by Rabbi Cohen actually began with "How do we know we are Jews?" This was during a "Bris" when he introduced his new-born son to us. Rabbi Cohen explained that it is by the way children behave in the community, amongst friends and family, by their respect or disrespect, how they carry forward, observe, and perform their traditions and rituals do we know the extent of our influence. We see the future in our children.

Why is Rabbi Cohen's question relevant to the practice of Aikido? What struck me during his speech was its similarity with what I have been sharing in the dojo. I have often said that students reveal the teacher. Which is why, whenever I am asked as a sensei what my grading is like, I reply that now it includes the behaviour and performance of my students. Being a teacher and a guide is a great responsibility; a mission and service not to be taken lightly. In traditional Aikido dojos, senseis are chosen, apprenticed, and appointed. You cannot ask to be one. What more, being the child's first teachers, as parents?

Children do reflect their parents and the home environment. Every inaction is an action, and every non-decision is a decision. Abdicating responsibility and differing to a more liberal approach to parenting still makes us accountable for its consequences.

So are we who we say we are, and how do we know if we have succeeded in passing on the torch; handing down the teachings of our faith, our culture, and our traditions to our children? Regardless of where we come from, wherever we find ourselves or how deeply we try to assimilate with local customs and culture, we represent and reflect our heritage. Each unique heritage adds to the rich diverse society in which we live. Celebrating with and acknowledging each community's festival, tradition, and practice by name reinforces and recognises this diversity in a positive way; enhancing the relationship amongst all cultures and communities.

We are all children of our parents, no matter what our age is now. For my younger students, some of you will one day be parents too. As we remember and honour those who have fallen in service for their country, we remind ourselves that we too are ambassadors and representatives of our family to the world. Do we bring honour to our parents and our family, or have we learnt from their shortcomings so that we are exemplars for our children? What a monumental task it is, being involved with succession planning... as we all seem to be.

Have a most meaningful Remembrance Day.

See you in the Dojo.

In peace and harmony,
Rafael Oei Sensei.

(© Copyright November 2011: Rafael Oei)

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