“Take Total Responsibility – Who is to Blame?” by Nev Sagiba

“The great mystery is that those people I know who are dedicated to serious creative endeavours serving society, rarely, if ever get attacked.”

ablogicon_nevThis one really presses people’s buttons. When you are attacked, the responsibility is entirely your own!

Nobody likes to hear it and the vitriol comes up soon to be followed by voluble morally indignant arguments that make sense only to a confirmed excuse-maker who is in fact making a statement that he or she, has made a choice to remain stuck on the wheel and stay a victim of circumstances for the rest of their life.

Aside from Morihei Ueshiba, I think it was the Buddha who had the clarity to make this assertion with confidence.

You are responsible!

I am responsible!

It’s like wrestling, jujitsu or aikido, move what you can, stabilize, adjust yourself and flow returns to make things happen. As if by itself: Aiki! Small moves can make great changes.

I have an acquaintance who likes to believe that every time something goes wrong, someone has put the “evil eye” on him. Now that’s a good cop out. It holds no water. Other people have other mechanisms. Some of these like to pose behind “scientific” rhetoric, but when the argument is out, there is not one atom of science (knowing of fact) in it, merely superstition dressed up in quasi scientific rhetoric. That’s a bucket too. A hollow bucket of manure.

If you don’t think that you are responsible for your choices, for the time you leave and the time you return, for the things you choose to do and the things you choose not to, for the places you go and for the places you avoid, for the people you associate with and those not… and so on… then I ask you: Who is pulling your strings?

Whilst you can’t “change the world,” you can indeed, difficult as this may often seem, change yourself!

Even, be this in small, manageable, regular installments of reshaping habits and refining skill.

By changing yourself, you do influence the world and every relationship in it. The Butterfly Effect is alive and well. Not in a revolutionary way but in an evolutionary way. It may take a while for a tree to grow to the point where it bears fruit, but it is reasonably predictable, given the right conditions, it will.

So with all things.

A student kept complaining that he only got attacked when he stopped training. The pubs he was frequenting may have contributed somewhat, but when he was training, apparently the brawls seemed less or nonexistent to him.

Another person got his expensive mobile phone stolen at a pub where drug addicts and other felons hang out. Now that’s a difficult decision. If you want to stay out of trouble simply don’t go where trouble is. And if you need to communicate, even the cheapest cell phone will do the job.

Commonsense is not nuclear science. Perhaps we sometimes get to addicted to drama and go looking for trouble that never needed to happen.

And yet again, another is employed to take care of trouble and apprehend those who make it. He’s never been hurt. Why? Unlike his work mates, he trains.

Conversely, I met a Buddhist nun whose life before she became a nun was filled with more suffering than most people could hope to bear. Her conclusion? “I chose this life. I chose my parents, the place I was born, the circumstances of my life and the pressures that drove me to seek awakening. I am responsible.”

Where is she now? Sitting cross-eyed and cross legged contemplating the greed for an unattainable “enlightenment?” No. She is reaching out and actively working to alleviate the suffering of others.

Change what you can. Leave alone what you can’t for now. And learn to know the difference.

Funnily, or not, the great mystery is that those people I know who are dedicated to serious creative endeavours serving society, rarely, if ever get attacked.

Being conscious of your surroundings helps. So does being prepared and improving yourself as a human being who chooses to be empowered.

It’s impossible to be empowered and an excuse making blamer at the same time, just as it is impossible to be a coward whilst actively serving and saving lives.

Either you are busy visualizing, focusing and doing, or you are leaking and draining energy whining and wasting time and life. Either forming good associations or bad ones.

With each breath, you are closer to death. That’s an irrevocable fact nobody can change. The past is gone forever. The future is unknown.

Why waste the precious present. At each moment the whole universe and all its potentials are offering themselves for you use.

Try this experiment. Take total responsibility for everything that has ever happened to you, is happening and will happen. At least try to drop the egocentric, self-important arrogance that lives under the surface show of humility. Simply be open and honest. Include your dark side.

Then get a good, clear mirror and look into it. See how long you can sustain eye contact with yourself. It’s not easy for people who carry lies about themselves. If after an hour you get bored, quit. You must be an enlightened being or something.

Excuses, such as “who can find the time” is a sure sign that you are entirely hypnotized by the Matrix and you want to stay that way. There’s no blue or red pill, merely honesty and dishonesty. And bullshit, no matter how you dress it up, is just that.

Taking responsibly for your choices indeed does change things. It modifies a whole series of actions and reactions by altering a number of interconnected chains of events.

Who is responsible for an individual’s life. God? The devil? Or oneself?

The mind and beliefs are so powerful that what you believe becomes true; at least for you. You make it so by positioning yourself accordingly. Those who choose to channel this mind to formulating loftier beliefs, generally modify their actions and activities to reflect their ideas, and thereby, taking full and entire responsibility for the navigation of their own life, dispel blame for the illness that it is; and start steering into the direction of choice.

Each experience is a teaching. If you disparage its value, you waste the teaching. If you accept it as a gift of universal energy you become its master.

Nobody can address a thousand tasks at once. But one at a time with full focus becomes very possible.

Likewise for any attack you may experience, but more so, if, knowing we live in a world of intense energy exchanges, we practice to be prepared and fit to meet the challenges and adversities on the way.

Each step is a gain. Choose good steps.

Hence Budo. And if you want to really refine this art of navigating energy, then Aiki Budo.

Take it from there. You innately know the rest.

Nev Sagiba


  • I have to agree .. but then I think .. about 2% of the time you are ever attacked .. it is not your fault, which is a pretty small number considering what you CAN do to prevent that episode from ever happening.

    The way you conduct yourself, the way you dress, the way you respond to people around you, the very aura you generate for who you are … either draws trouble to you, or sends out signals that to those seeking trouble you are not worth their time or effort.

    For every single woman’s self-defense seminar I have ever done .. awareness … is the key word. Awareness of your surroundings, awareness of those around you, awareness of what YOU the person are doing as well as how your actions prevent you from becoming a victim or losing your head, and even awareness of recognizing trouble before it starts .. winds up being the key issue.


    But ya know what? Two days later .. most people fall back into their bad habits and once again they are victims .. even most of our Aikido students and practitioners. Even the best of our aikido teachers have moments they let down their guard .. we are only human.

    Just so long as you are aware .. you have let yourself become a victim .. and know it is your fault .. I am good with that. How about you … are you good with taking the blame for your faults?

  • Fault and responsibility are different. If I am attacked it is not my fault and it is my responsibility. We can’t fix a person’s life and years of societal training in a 2 hour SD workshop.

  • …there is this “thing”, maybe egotism, that tells me that i can do ANYTHING. after all, am i not free? …and besides, haven’t i been training for years? why NOT go down that dark alley at 2am? chicken? takes a while to accept that i’m just part of the universe. yes. i CAN go down the dark alley. i can also stick my hand in a food processor. either way, there may be consequences… (and when there are, yeah, i did it.)

  • Another great one Nev!

    Anyone been to a college campus lately? Back a few years ago when I was still attending the amount of unawareness was staggering. If it’s similar to out here everywhere else (I’m going to take a leap of faith and say it is or at least here in the States) most students have very low awareness. Both male and female go from class to class with either headphones music blasting or are wrapped up in a conversation on the phone. This same attitude surely has to have crossed into other areas of their life. I know I’ve seen it people are on phones all the time while shopping, walking, driving etc.

    As far as myself I try to always take responsibility even if it’s not the easy thing to do. I don’t live to blame others for what happens to me.

  • Well done, Nev! For many years we have taught that if I am attacked it is my duty to apologize. I say, in effect, “I am sorry for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” I say it while demonstrating my apology by humbly performing shiho-nage or whatever the appropriate non-injurious technique the Universe calls for. This is the teaching.
    The reality is that Shirata-sensei was right: “He who studies Aikido will never have a fight.” So seriously do we take this that some students have “expelled themselves” from our association because of fighting. They got the message.
    In my 54 years of Aiki, I have never had a fight. Before that, yes. Occasional very tense moments, a gun pulled on me and a threat to kill me, but never a fight.
    At some level Aikiso means not just responsibility but at least the possibility of reconciliation. Idealistic? Certainly. But also attainable.

  • Absolutely it is always the victims fault when they are attacked. Just ask any rapist they will tell you “she asked for it”.

  • Fault and responsibility are not the same thing. Psychopaths blame-the-victim-syndrome is the same problem as victims blaming the perpetrator. At some level they want to play the sick game and indulge the drama. They choose to remain in denial because they fear change more than violence. Both perpetrator and victim are indeed victims. Wallowing in “mea-culpa” is not what I’m talking about. Choosing to move away from risk is strategy. It’s as old as existence itself. By decidedly taking responsibility for the solution, you will empower yourself to whatever extent, to prevent, dissuade, discourage, defend and minimize harm. By making a choice to take charge of your life, you make changes.

    Denial, wallowing, and blaming, weakens you, your mind, your spirit and by default and inactivity, physically as well.

    Moving in the direction of choice empowers. Yes, sure, training is inconvenient. But not as much as time in hospital, permanent injuries and other destructive personal compromise.

    Things “should “be different. Indeed. Try telling God and take it up with Him/Her/It and you will be waiting longer than any other lesser bureaucracy for a reply.

    If it’s your time and you’re going to die, better to die fighting, than as a compliant coward. Even better to be properly prepared and not die at all.

    Yes, “the world should be different,” it “might be,” “if only,” “but”.. and if you are standing on the tracks the train will run you over.

    Or MOVE!

    Here are some facts. Most people practicing martial arts had been beaten, abused, violated, sustained an assault or attempted assault.. whatever, before they began training. They made a CHOICE! To NOT STAY THERE in victim’s land. To no longer live in denial of reality. To change THEMSELVES!
    Preparation changes outcomes. Preparation is an advance thing. It’s like an arms race and it is extant throughout nature, something we are not separate from. If you are late in this regard, it’s often too late. On this basis we all have a responsibility to make an effort to understand the environments in which we exist and not expect to be spoon fed, have our hand held or our back scratched. Not every day at least.

    There’s nothing we can do to change others. But we can, and have the power to change ourselves and meet the environment more effectively.

    Others make it a personal choice to stay weak, that way they would like to imagine they will not have to take responsibility for anything. So they drown their sorrows, lie to themselves and continue to take abuse, hoping, wishing, trying to forget and getting weaker by the day.

    How many people report that once they start persisting with training, the attacks stop. I wonder why? Perhaps the relationship with existence and its life forms has altered, if even a little and enough to avoid the thickness of as blade. That can often be more than enough.

    Others “have no time,” for self-discipline, but lots of time for TV, substance abuse and excuses. And looking for trouble by doing stupid activities.

    A simple fact of life is that reality will not change to suit anyone. But we can change ourselves sufficiently to modify at least our own reality. After that, God might bother to get involved. As O’Sensei repeatedly said, “Practice to take charge of life in any situation, train regularly, avoid violence if you can, and if you can’t, then do your best and leave everything in the hands of God.”

    This may suggest they we may be somehow co-creatively and participatorily responsible to do our bit, before having any expectation that the Universe will chip in. Prepare ourselves to be a conduit for universal energy. Earn the right to be free. Prepare ourselves for survival. Everything has a price in nature. In this case training and any attendant initial discomfort or inconvenience, is the price for being better prepared in any field.

    Unconsciousness may be used as an excuse, but sadly it falls on deaf ears in the face of the hard facts of existence as it is.

    On this basis, preparation and personal accountability has to be a social responsibility inculcated at all levels, instead of the lackadaisical wallowing in the luxury of being unconscious, self serving and silly.
    At least prepared to be able to do your best in any contingency. The Japanese, a nation of once ongoing feudal wars and ever present threat of earthquakes, cyclones and tsunami, are well aware that life is uncertain, hence the word, Ganbatte, which implies personal attention and preparation making one capable of indeed doing their best, no matter what..

    It is an unfortunate fact, that often, we tend to become conscious only if and after we survive an event, overcome the trauma and learn strategic and contingency thinking to not let it happen again. We can learn from the past or we can carry it like burden.

    Nobody “asks” to be violated, cheated, shot, bombed or attacked in any way.
    However, as was made most succinct in the movie, “Chance favors the prepared.”
    On that basis, the world being as it is, and no other way, it falls upon us to get prepared and teach our children to live in a prepared way.

    That too is a choice and not compulsory. The choice usually determines the consequences.

  • Globally, there are millions of individuals who have made the personally heroic decision, and indeed do so daily, to not be a victim of their lot. This becomes their path and thereby they shine as spiritual warriors.

    “Yes but..” is not an answer to life’s challenges.

    To name only a few who readily come to mind who did not take it lying down:
    Edith Piaf – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Édith_Piaf,
    Mukhtaran Bibi – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mukhtaran_Bibi
    Oscar Pistorius – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Pistorius
    Aimee Mullins – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aimee_Mullins

    Their examples can be learned from.

    Most quiet heroes are unknown. You are probably one in your life and don’t even realise it. To be a warrior does not require weapons or “techniques,” rather how one lives a life of integrity.
    That’s the only Aikido. Prancing in a room is merely kindergarten of the soul and of no use unless you take it further, into life. If dojo teaches you nothing more, or merely massages your ego, you are the walking dead.

    Glass half empty? Or glass half full?

    You decide!