Leadership versus Handholding

This is a kind of management topic here, but I guess it is applicable in the context of Aikido as Aikido has its inherent management structure.

So what is the difference, and what is the similarities?

When we first joined Aikido as beginners, we have our senior peers to help us along, coach us in the finer physicality of the action. and sometimes, the mental part. We look up to our seniors, in awe of their more advanced and confident techniques. And when we become senior, we look back in retrospection and began coaching our juniors.

The practices of Aikido, in my opinion is one of the best place to practice leadership/hand holding. Some junior belts, are ‘unteachable’ at the onset, no matter how much leadership you display, they will still make the same mistakes, again and again, so there is no way we can lead, by example. We have to hand hold the incumbent every step of the way, again and again, and again. This is a test of our patience of course! But unlike employment, we cannot give the poor chap a sack. And as senior, we take it upon ourselves, sometimes, with too much ego at stake, to make sure the beginner gets it. We really hand hold all the way, until the beginner really needs no more hand holding. Thankfully, most of our beginners, gets it, sooner, many later, but they still get it eventually.

Leadership happens when they are fundamentally aligned, they can take falls, they can do the basic movements, then we can lead them to explore more areas of their own physical movement, in this aspect, hand holding will be detrimental as it ends up like a crutch, inhibiting the beginner’s growth. When the beginner is more confident, we can start to inspire them, challenge the,  throw them off the scent, let them get lost so that they can find their own way back. But if we were to do this to a brand new beginner, the learning curve will become so steep, they give up climbing.

Both are just as important in our learning, too much hand holding and we end up autocratic, too much leadership, and we have lost lambs, people cannot follow what the hell we are doing. a good balance of both means we need to handle people with our eyes wide open, treat everyone like people.


About Who is Randy Lim

This blog is about the journey and experiences in my life as an Aikidoka. With close to 20 years in the arts, I'll make comments and judgements based on 2 principles, E&E. Experimentation and Experiential reflection. please enjoy, and comment freely.
This entry was posted in the grey matter, What happens in Class and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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