Aikido: Reputation and Integrity


“ Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation. I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation. “

So said Cassio from Shakespeare’s Othello.

Here is a study of the human spirit. Shakespeare must have made it a lifelong mission to study, observe and effectively capture and illustrate human behaviour. If Shakespeare could have studied Aikido, he might have made a good Aikidoka taking into consideration that Aikido is also the study of the human spirit.

There are people I meet very much like Cassio.

Reputation is the end all and be all of what and everything they do. Appearances are of great import as well as hearsay and what other people will think of them. In the world of advertising, this is very important. Projecting an image to attract possible buyers or clients is a very big part of sales, marketing and advertising.

When I was a child, I was under the impression that a good child, was a silent child. Someone who did not draw undue attention to themselves, who respected their elders and did not make a peep of protestation even if their elders were unreasonable.aah Because a good child was both obedient, and silent. My parents were great, they encouraged us all to speak our minds and to be able to put forth an argument or reason for something. It was the environment outside the home that gave me that impression.

When I started to reason out or voice out my objections, my remarks were met with raised eyebrows and remonstrations from people who were not close to me or my family, people who did not know me well. I was labelled as rebellious and / or disrespectful. Saying “No” to an older person was not a positive reflection on myself or my parents. It took me a while to come around to saying “No” without feeling guilty about refusing something. People do that, you know, make you feel guilty for refusing to do a them a favor. I have learned not to be swayed by wounded looks and sullen silences; manipulations designed to convince the soft-hearted to change their “no’s” into a “yes” , okay, I’ll see what I can do…that sort of thing.

So, I gained the reputation of being that woman’s daughter who spoke her mind regardless of who was listening. Do I want to lose that reputation? No. That is also who I am. Honest to the point of being painful and blunt, sometimes.

However, reputation is not the same as integrity. 

There is a big difference. Reputation may be true or untrue, and has a lot to do with outward appearances, but integrity is truth all the way. My uncle once told my brother that the most important element in being an adult is your integrity. It is the only one you’ve got. You will not sell it, not compromise it because it runs through deep into your soul.

So what is integrity?

Integrity is the quality of being honest, the state of being whole, undivided, being consistent in your actions, behaviour, values and principles. speak truthWhen a person has integrity, he or she honors his promises, and keeps his commitments. That doesn’t mean one is infallible, but a person who has integrity recognizes and accepts responsibilities for his mistakes, and he cares enough to try his best to make them right. Upon integrity lies the basis for being trustworthy, reliable, and dependable. In integrity, one must remain unaffected by praise nor criticism. Someone with integrity cannot be bought by commendations and threats. Because what is important to someone who has integrity is being true to themselves and the values and personal beliefs they hold dear.

Would you sacrifice integrity for reputation?
Or would you sacrifice reputation for integrity?

Is it possible for one to be consistent with the other? Can reputation be congruent to integrity? Maybe if someone started out as a person with integrity in the first place and is known for it.

Picture two brick walls. One wall has no concrete or mortar filling in it, just a coat of plaster. Outside, it looks just as solid and just as strong as the other one which is also plastered over, but is filled with concrete and reinforced with cable. They both look the same, but one will break and give way when someone heavy enough strikes it.

In technique, it is possible to just look good because uke makes you look good. But wouldn’t you rather be good because your technique was based on the principles that make it work? Because you worked hard on it, because you tried to make it right, do it right, repeated it until you got it right? Wouldn’t you rather base your technique on the strength of its principles and its integrity?

Regarding reputation, I will go with Iago on this one:

“Reputation is an idle and most false imposition, oft got without merit and lost without deserving.”

(Please also see: “O’Sensei is Human“)

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