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How I use Yoshinkan Aikido in Business - Part III

Posted on 2017.06.25 by Michael Stuempel

Welcome back to my series of how I apply Yoshinkan Aikido in Business.

Thanks for coming back!

Part I of this series was about focusing on goals.
Part II was about handling failure.

In this post, I am going to discuss what Yoshinkan Aikido taught me about partnerships and trust.

I was 18 and a student at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada when I started Yoshinkan. I didn't know a lot about what a real partnership was or what trust really meant. I had friends. I could share with others, but looking back I had no idea how special a good relationship built upon trust was. Yoshinkan gave me that education and I try to apply it in business as I forge partnerships for Emissary.

One of the key training methodologies in Yoshinkan is practicing techniques with a partner. When working with a partner, you are either the shite (the one who applies the technique) or the uke (the one who receives the technique). Training consists of switching back and forth between the shite and uke role with your partner. Techniques usually start with the uke attacking the shite and then the shite applying the technique to the uke. Techniques usually end up with the either the uke's joints being manipulated to immobilize them or with the uke being thrown through the air until they crash into the mat.

In the beginning, techniques are usually done slowly with stops and checks at various points within a technique. This is both to give the shite time to focus on the details within a technique and to protect the uke from harm while they learn how to receive the technique. Shite and uke grow and learn together and their partnership strengthens. As the skill and timing of the partners improve, the speed of the techniques increases to the point where it can be quite dangerous for uke if shite's timing is off or if uke's skill is insufficient to receive the technique. 

The interesting thing about the shite/uke partnership is that it requires trust on both sides. The uke must trust that the shite is not actually trying to injure them, but is working with them to keep them safe while pushing them to the edge of their ability. Similarly, the shite must trust that the uke is attacking them with the speed and strength appropriate to their own skill level. Essentially, both shite and uke must trust that the other person is doing their job to the best of their ability and is giving each other the focus, speed and strength required to complete the technique. Partners grow together as they learn to put their trust in each other. The partnership fails if one of the partners isn't engaged or doesn't try to work with the other. In Yoshinkan, this usually means that someone gets injured.

One of the reasons that Yoshinkan does not hold competitions is that if competitors (the partners) only care about themselves (and winning), then serious injury is likely. 

In business, we have several kinds of partnerships. For example, there is the partnership between the manager and the managed. There is also the partnership between the company and the customer. And there is the partnership between two different companies who work together on a shared goal. The roles of partners in these three scenarios are different but the idea that each member has a specific role to play and a specific set of skills that they bring to the union is shared and similar to the partnership in Yoshinkan. If one side of the partnership doesn't engage or doesn't care about the other, then the partnership will fail. 

With all partnerships, there must be trust between those partnered and each must bring as much to the relationship as they can. The partners must be honest with what their abilities are and what they are able to do, as well as what they are unable to do. Each partner must trust that the other member in their partnership is doing the same and providing them with accurate information needed to achieve the shared goal. With trust and a shared goal, partners will grow together and the quality of their relationship and their shared goal will improve.

The shared goal in Yoshinkan is for the partners to improve their understanding and application of the technique. This is done through communication and trust that is built up with constant practice over time. I have learned a lot since my Yoshinkan training began when I was an 18-year-old university freshman. The knowledge of what a true partnership is, the knowledge that partnerships take time to build and the knowledge that trust and caring about your partner is the way to strengthen a partnership is one of the most important things that I have learned.

This knowledge is what I bring to Emissary and it is this knowledge that I apply in business to form and strengthen the partnerships that Emissary has with staff, with customers and with our global partners.

I look forward to your comments and thoughts and to your joining me for Part IV.

Michael Stuempel, President, Emissary Computer Solutions, Tokyo, Japan

Part I of this series | Part II of this series

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About Michael Stuempel

Michael Stuempel is a misplaced Canadian following his hopes, dreams and aspirations in Tokyo.

Michael arrived in Tokyo in 1993 to participate in the 3rd Yoshinkan Aikido Hombu Dojo International Instructor's Course and soon after co-founded Emissary Computer Solutions. His primary, professional focus has been to assist International companies with their Japan based IT endeavours. Emissary often acts as the liaison between a company's IT headquarters and their Japan branch. Michael's IT experience in Japan includes running local operations for International global support partners, overseeing Data Centre support engineers in their duties, assisting startups with their initial IT footprint, providing smart hands support in offices, factories and data centres throughout Japan as well as the design, implementation and maintenance of IT infrastructure and systems for a variety of companies in several industries. More

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