I’ve collaborated until now with five international organizations: NIKO (New International Karate Organization), AIKO (Ashihara International Karate Organization), AKI (Ashihara Karate International), TSU (Tsu Shin Gen International Budo Association), and IAKA (International Association of Karate Ashiharakyokai). From the management point of view, the first four have a leader (namely “Kancho”, “Shihan”, “Kaicho” or “Soke”), and a technical committee decides on the latter. But which form of organization is better?
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Last year, a meeting took place at the company I work for, and some goals were established. But when it came about the assumption of responsibility for projects’ implementations, I asked who takes the final decision if my vision differs from that of the leadership, and the answer was surely not me. This seems to me a good example of how power could work in the hands of only one person; if you are dealing with someone more… control freak and who has no openness to innovation, then you can consider that all your dreams will be shattered. I believe that a single leader assumes a great responsibility if he only puts the good functioning of the organization on his shoulders; and the bigger the organization is, the harder it will be to lead it so that it will please everybody. Also, for members, this situation exonerates them from any obligation and I think any leader wants them to actively support the evolution of the organization they belong to. To summarize: successes belong to all, but the failures only to one. While perceiving an organizational chart as a pooling of the experiences of each affiliated person can radically change the situation, because decisions taken in consensus, both good and bad, will have to be assumed by all. I think every organization wants to include people who are interested, motivated and loyal, because it’s much better to be associated than employee. The AK MASTERS blog started with this principle: an online platform created by a single person, but belonging to the entire international Ashihara-Karate community.
I asked So-Shihan Yuri Egorov to explain the reasons why IAKA adopted its form of organization: “International Association of Karate Ashiharakyokai is a separate and intelligible association created by organizations and clubs that wish to continue the path of the late Kancho Hideyuki Ashihara. IAKA doesn’t have a function or office of Kancho or President. IAKA members are assisted by a Technical Advisory Committee. I dare to note that the Technical Advisory Committee provides assistance in studying the style and technical progress, but doesn’t give orders that require unconditional subordination. So, everyone has the opportunity to join us and also to leave us. But no one will exclude anyone from the association. Position single leader is missing, that wouldn’t have appeared temptations of privileges of power. The positions of technical advisers are held by reputable persons in the martial arts world and thus giving importance to associations. The position of technical director obliges to assist in the development and technical growth of new members of the organization. I recall the structure of IAKA is not a feudal pyramid.” For a better understanding of the IAKA principles, I invite you to read the interview I published with So-Shihan Yuri Egorov (click here).
About this topic, Shihan Dave Jonkers (AIKO) said: “Kaicho, Shihan, Soke , Hanshi or whatever… It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact affects getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your sport, who inspires your members, instructors, etc. Our members will always be the ground floor, pillars of the organization. Our instructors have a task to inspire their students by living in according to their beliefs and values. They set the example for all others to follow. They have their students believing you can do anything, and this is so because they themselves believe it. Their behaviours in the organisation determine this influence. Leadership is not about a title or designation.” You can read more about AIKO and Shihan Dave Jonkers’ opinions about Ashihara-Karate in an interview that you can find it here.
Recently, I’ve noticed on social networks many discussions about the fact that an Ashihara-Karate organization is better than another and that some are “fake”, and others – “true”. We lose the essence of things! It isn’t about the management, it’s about agreement and respect. After all, globalization has opened wide the door to multicultural diversity and acceptance; who isn’t able to respect this principle, then he isolates himself from the society, and even gets into the situation of being paranoid, believing that others are using a good that he alone is entitled to (there are people in this martial arts style who have this perception!!!). That is why I think that consensus can sometimes be the best way forward. It’s easy to bring together valuable people with strong personalities, but really difficult to form with them a united team when someone assigns their absolute leadership status, whose decisions are inviolable. Infallibility destroys homogeneity, and if the pride isn’t replaced by the majority agreement, then things will simply break apart.