“Who Is To Blame?” by Nev Sagiba

The vilest people in the world revel in blame, making excuses, finger pointing and passing the buck, gossip and throwing mud. In so doing they slowly and eventually destroy themselves, but sadly also do a lot of harm on the way. I’ve known of instructors who after inflicting injury on a student, then try to make the victim feel at fault.

If there is any injury in the dojo, who is to blame, the instructor or the victim?

Blame is the wrong word. The word blame is a word used by misfits, the morally weak, politicians and anyone striving to hard to distance themselves from their responsibility of harm done.

Responsibility is the correct word because all relationships are symbiotic affairs. No one exists who can exist without others, nature and the universe and its laws of existence.

In the long term blame weakens the blamer most of all, whereas responsibility empowers you to take responsibility for correcting your contribution in all matters.

In any situation, including the dojo, the senior person is entirely responsible for everything that happens and should be held accountable. Or he should step down and relinquish his undeserved ranking, as being inadequate and incompetent to hold such responsible position, if he can’t or won’t maintain the highest standards of respect and safety. So also in any field of service such as a government or any other organisation.

But, as we know, that’s not what happens. Misfits will cling to undeserved position, undeserved wealth and a host of undeserved privileges , which when not earned are stolen.

If you get attacked who is to blame, you or the attacker?

In the field or street or wherever you may be attacked in any way, shape or form, unless you are a child whose protectors failed in their responsibility, YOU as a purporting to be functional adult, and only YOU, are responsible for the attack. And its outcome.

There are no victims.

Blaming the attacker may balm the ego and help your denial, but it will not empower you to act, to prevent future incidents and to take charge.

Let me put it this way. You are the captain of your ship and navigator of your life and security procedures are as necessary a part of life as hygiene, nutrition, knowing how to swim, fire safety, driving ability, knowing how to cook, clean and be aware of your surroundings.

As a navigator, it is you who focuses on your goals and choose where you go, how you travel, how you enact safety and security process.

Otherwise you live unconsciously and take your chances. That too is your choice.

Inconvenient as this may sound in a society of litigious laggards, the laws of nature remain uncompromising. Get it right or face the consequences.

Wildebeest can’t sue lions for eating them but they could learn to use their horns a bit better to survive.

Opinions are all good but nature does not listen. She has her ways of processing energy that have worked for billions of years.

It is up to us to make the adjustments that will best uplift the circumstances of humanity in which we are inevitable participants.

At least to have a go.

In this happy, fragile bubble we like to call “humanity” and “civilisation,” we can to some extent modify the rules of survival at a more cerebral level whilst interacting in agreed paradigms.

However when it comes to rock bottom, nature, in the processes of creation, carries certain requirements of attrition which must be known, understood, observed and at times, of necessity, applied.

These require that you apply the primal laws of survival if you want to live in the face of what in human construct many may rightly construe as unjust.

Notwithstanding, if we are to navigate well, and in a broader range of circumstances, we are required to expand our understanding through practice.

Such practice enables you to take charge in the face of emergency with some measure of understanding.

Taking responsibility is the essential precursor of enabling you to take charge.

Nobody “blames” an earthquake, flood, tsunami, volcanic eruption, heatwave, cold snap, tornado, landslide and the host of natural sudden changes we as species may find inconvenient.

When insurance companies sought to use the meaningless legal term “Act of God” to default on their responsibility to pay out, following a lightning strike, one guy sued the Catholic Church who after attempting to bury him, promptly sought to distance themselves from this “God” fellow they previously claimed to have ownership of. Not surprisingly, suddenly “God” could not be found.

This may have set a precedent and I believe some insurance companies no longer use the disingenuous term “Act of God.” Even a semi comedic movie was made about this event.

This whole concept of buck passing and reassigning tort, could open up a Pandora’s box of questions and debates about the existence of any deity, whether benign or malign, whose purported intervention or interference would give rise to even more questions about faith, lack of it and a raft of other philosophical questions about riddles about the way we think we see things that raise even more questions regarding observation and knowledge of reality, such as:

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?


If a man speaks his mind in a forest and no woman hears him is he still wrong?

But this is not the purpose of this discourse. Rather to notice certain indisputable observations, these being:

Blame and making excuses makes you weak.

Taking responsibility empowers you.

You cannot control forces stronger than yourself. But you can find ways to respond. And you can learn newer, better ways to respond and refine them through regular practice drills and experience.

It’s not what’s thrown at you but how you respond that determines outcomes and whether you get to preserve your integrity. By integrity I mean all of it, including the structure of particles, atoms, molecules, cells and parts that go into making you and making you whole. And keeping you alive in the face of adversity.

So also mental clarity and a recognition of oneness with all others in life and the responsibility to participate in pulling our weight in contributing to the greater wellbeing.

By taking responsibility and by responding as constructively as we know how, we participate in bringing about great good and a lessening of otherwise bitter and crushing struggles.

It never ceases to astound me how a dysfunctional generation in a long line of self serving war makers, pillagers and environmental destroyers, then have the temerity to refuse to look into a mirror and accept their contribution to the failure and dysfunction that resulted from their various efforts. Instead many hurl toxic blame at the younger generation they produced in a frenzy of no doubt, irresponsible, inebriated lust. Where is the deliberate and responsible parenting that defines our true humanity?

There is no escape from life, nor can there be a sitting on the fence. We are nolens volens, obliged to meet each day as it is. We can blame the day for being as it is, but that will prove an exercise in futility.

Practicing Budo in order to get into a fight is a pretty dumb goal. A sane person avoids fights unless there is no alternative than to fight in order to survive.

Budo has a far greater purpose, in particular an authentic approach to Aikido, and that is to enhance you as a valid and useful human being who can augment the ability to, in some way, add to the greater harmony of the whole world.

To meet life with skill and a responsible intent, unleashes a greater dimension of being that nourishes greater potentials and begins to expand the power of possibility.

Such is the nature of all Budo and its ultimate creative purpose.

Nev Sagiba


  1. WOW! Great column, simple, straight to the point and very well said. There is only “us” and as Michael Jackson said nowhere to look except at the man in the mirror when looking for those responsible for those conditions we experience in this world.

  2. I started training in a dojo where there were too many injuries. The teacher was rough and strong enough to pound the students hard. They, in turn, pounded each other. Those who came through relatively unscathed also became strong, if not wise. Many of those who WERE wise moved on while they could. The shame is the number of “walking wounded” whose training was impaired if not terminated by injury. There has to be one of those fine lines between training hard and training too hard. Finding it probably involves caring for your students and training partners. (…as Ai, love, is the same as Ai, harmony…)

  3. bruce baker says:

    You must always be afraid, but what you do with the fear is more important than being afraid.

    You will cause people to be injured, but what responsibility will you accept and shoulder for you being the facilitator of that injury?

    At what point is your responsibility met, and at what point do you refuse to take responsibility for someone?

    A small bird is pushed out of nest by it’s mother but you try to feed the baby bird, and yet it dies anyway two or three days later? Should you have let nature take it’s course and left the bird alone to die? Everyone has to step back, and look at the bigger picture … because … situation are not always as simple or as clear as black and white.

    By helping someone too much you remove their will to help themselves, take responsibility for their own life and welfare.

    By my trying to feed a bird that could have fed some other animal I might have killed off a whole chain of events that would allow more than one animal to live. Sometimes a small kindness is a great evil … I depends on how much of the big picture you perceive, doesn’t it?

    My local paper was talking about locals from Ocean County who during the Indian Wars of the 1700s were killing and scalping every Indian they could find, destroying crops, food, and Indian villages way way before Sherman’s March to the Sea during the Civil War. We forget how barbaric we civilized people can become when we wish to be. We rarely talk about the slaughters of the Native Americans and how our American ancestors did great wrongs to the native population to steal their lands, but then again, that is not us, it was someone else, right?

    Well, responibility does empower you to act, and sometimes … to NOT act, it depends on what causes more postive results over the long run and in light of the big picture. Hopefully we have educated ourselves, enlightened ourselves, adn we have the where-with-all to choose wisely for our actions.

    Your training, your injuries, your responsibilities are mere lessons of the learning experience to help you make better decisions, more enlightened and better educated decisions …

Speak Your Mind