“The Secret of Success,” by Nev Sagiba


Many years ago I realised that the secret of success was failure.

Let me explain.

We repeat the same exercise getting it wrong and striving to get it right so many times that we finally run out of ways to get it wrong.

Not only with Aikido and fighting arts, but in all things. When I took up IT, it also proved an exhausting process of trial and error until, when you run out of errors, only the right way remains. And even this can be refined without end.

Probably works with marriage and relationships too. At least it would explain the high rates of divorce.

Pointing to this predisposition is the fact that most “naturals” at any skill are noticed to soon become complacent, and not long after peter out. They have no challenge, and therefore no reason to try and continue to try.

Whereas the klutzes just hang in there and become masters in the end.

How often is this proven to be so? Countless times.

This makes a case for persistence.

We learn our best lessons from errors. And from going back to correct them. In fact, the whole process of evolution is pretty much like that.

A wise man once told me, “The amateur practices until he gets it right. The professional continues to practice until he can no longer get it wrong!”

As someone said, “If at first you do succeed, be very surprised and keep on practicing..”

Ancient scriptures variously reiterated, “If you want to master, just do for the sake of doing without attachment to success or failure.”

In this context, Aristotle said, “You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is not an event – it is a habit”

Notice how well you drive a car, brush your teeth, walk, take a shower, for some – cook, clean, sweep and for many whatever it is that you do daily?

Why so?

Doing daily makes it part of you and you refine effortlessly.

Learning comes from within. You don’t need someone to fill your head with stuff. You don’t even need anyone to teach you how to learn because it is innate with every new-born child who has not had this natural gift, the gift of learning, beaten out of him by some bogan retard of an unfit parent.

We are all imbued with the instinct of discovery. Discovery requires testing and repetition.

And that’s what we practice in the dojo.

Can you remember learning to walk? If you can’t, I’ll refresh your memory. You tried and failed from between 2000 and 10,000 times.

You persisted.

Once you took your first step, you then fell over.

You got up and repeated the process.

Tears? Yes, many.

But you stuck with it, and now you take walking for granted.

That’s what’s Mastery is all about, but instead of taking it for granted, you retain the mind of gratitude.

Start with small goals. Once met, try slightly bigger ones. In manageable steps increase the degree of difficulty. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Babies seem to know the secret of success. Simplicity, focus, persistence, honesty, trial and error is The Way.

“And Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you..”: Matthew 7:7

Nev Sagiba

“Now an e-book:
FOUR DIAMONDS 1024 – Basic Transitions and Counters of Aikido

by Nev Sagiba

4 Diamonds 1024  - The Book

Get the e-book: “FOUR DIAMONDS 1024, Basic Transitions and Counters of Aikido”

The ability to adjust seamlessly between techniques defines mastery. In most cases, this essential attribute of Aikido has been either ignored or guessed at. This book not only reveals the innate simplicity behind the apparent complexity of Aikido Transitions and Counters, but it provides a full spectrum of possibilities for practicing. Here it is, simplified in drills of two techniques. When you can do these drills easily, you will be able to effect spontaneous responses to any attack. If you know your basic techniques this book is recommended and will enrich your Aikido. FOUR DIAMONDS 1024, provides complete sets of exercise drill guidelines to enable exploration of the available range of basic transitions and counters and unlock their potentials.


  1. Wagner Bull says:

    Nice Article Sagiba Sensei:

    Also George Ledyard wrote a wonderful book about this subject of Mastery.

    Have you read the ICHING, (The chinese book of Changes)?
    If not, I suggest it to you stronglly.

    Regarding Japanese culture, there is also a very good old saying about in Japanese languagge:

    “Nana korobi ya Oki”. (fall seven times raise up eight”.

    And in the Bible:

    “Mark 12:17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him.”

    Wagner Bull

  2. …As a confirmed klutz, I have to agree with you, except about the excellence part. Other people may (or may not) be impressed. I’m just “workin’ on it”…

  3. Jamie Yugawa says:

    Great article!! This reminds of a saying Koretoshi Maruyama says “Keizoku Ha Chikara Nari”- “Perseverence brings Power” How true.

  4. The one thing we really have in common, is that we make mistakes. If this statement is true, then we need to correct the problem; not just find a guilty party to blame, and alleviate ourselves of guilt or effort to correct the fault.

    Nev Sagiba has utilised a similar line of thought to a Lecturer who once advised me at Theological College, that “irritation” was a prime mover in all science subjects that are necessary to our growth, development, and comfort.

    Thank you for the article you have produced for us to consider.

  5. Nintai = patient persistence to perseverance. Good word and philosophy for the martial arts and life.

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