Step Up

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So, it’s been a few months now that I have stepped up to become Senshido International’s new Team Leader. I’ve been meaning to write this blog entry for awhile. I just didn’t know how to express it, until I started re-reading some comic books I had. I’m a bit of a superhero-geek so I thought this entry was fitting. And if you enjoy the superhero-comic book universe you may find this entry a fun read.

First, let’s start on how it all happened. Many of you who follow the Martial Arts world, namely the world of reality-based self-defense, may know that last year my teacher and good friend, Richard Dimitri stepped away from the business of self-defense and handed over Senshido to his Team Members. He had his reasons and is still a person I talk to and share ideas and philosophies with to this day. He ultimately decided to move on to bigger and better things (stay tuned). Anyway, for several months Senshido was leader-less. And many of us members were fine with that, including myself – or so we thought.

But I also noticed many of us members were kind of divided. Not personally, nor in terms of training, materials or methodology. What I saw was, rather, lack thereof true unity. We didn’t get together as a team like we used to and everyone was pretty much doing their own thing. So I spoke up. I believed we could still make Senshido International work as a team and that we didn’t necessarily need a leader as we all had our own strengths and dare I say, specialities within the group. I compared us to the (nerd alert!) Avengers or the Justice League. Each of us has something to offer, and we were all hand-picked by Richard Dimitri as Team Members for a reason. After sharing these thoughts with the group, I was told by other members that what I said was inspiring.

Then one day, I spoke with Richard, sharing thoughts, critiques and concerns within this martial arts/RBSD world. I kept him in the loop with the team’s progress. He really respected my ideas for wanting to keep up with “evolving” Senshido. Even prompting a planting a seed by saying, “Why don’t you lead now?”

I kind of brushed it off. I replied by saying I will just continue to lead by example. I thought we were fine the way we were. We just had to make sure we were all on the same page.

It seemed all that had happened created a domino effect. Apparently, team members were talking and they felt that there was a need of a leader. Not necessarily someone to tell everyone what to do specifically, but to delegate and maybe even make the tougher decisions regarding the group, especially in terms of progress; a figure-head if you will. They suggested nominating people, because, “…even The Avengers or Justice League still had a leader.”

At first, I was, along with a few other members, a little reluctant to the idea – let alone become the actual leader. It wasn’t until I saw my name thrown in there by a few of the team members, and why they thought I was a good candidate that changed my mind.

After reading such positive comments, I pondered, and thought, “Maybe I should.”

I think this panel sums up how I felt. It’s from a crossover¹ comicbook where the Avengers team up with the Justice League of America. (I warned you of the comicbook nerdgasm, so don’t judge me lol).

JLA/Avengers 2003- 2004; Kurt Busiek & George Perez

JLA/Avengers 2003- 2004; Kurt Busiek & George Perez

1 Note: for you non-comicbook fans, a cross over is when two or more characters from separate or competing titles, often from competing companies, join together in a story for a special event or storyline. Imagine a suituation when two separate t.v. shows from different networks would meet up and do a storyline together.

I know the character, Captain America very well. He’s also one of my favorite characters in comicbooks, and I guess I could compare myself to “Cap” himself:

Captain America: The First Avenger

……ok, so I’m not American. Then maybe this version is more suiting:

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I mean it figuratively of course. Personality-wise I feel I can relate to his character most. He has no real super powers and is joined with the likes of Superman, Thor, Flash, Wonder Woman, Ironman- and even Batman who has his fancy gadgets and genius intellect can be put on the level of “super”- yet they all are willing to listen or follow him. I am in the same boat. I was a bit surprised even. I am part of a group who many have much more experience than me in the field, were more skilled, been in more real-life situations, yet, I was still a likely candidate to lead them?

I look up to my team. I see us as heroes. We are definitely not above others, nor are we crazy vigilantes. But I see us as heroes because this team really enjoys helping others. Not just through self-defense and combatives training but through being good teachers. We should see ourselves as heroes because we care about our students, we care about their safety, health and their progress. We give our students someone to look up to, and I think that’s our responsibility. And this mentality is not limited to personal protection or martial arts, but in their everyday lives.

But the feedback I got from the team was that they see I do all those things too. They see my heart, my initiation and the passion to help others was strong. They knew despite not having as much experience as some of them, I did have extensive training with Richard Dimitri, the founder of Senshido, and have seen Senshido progress from nearly the beginning. I`m also very strategic and enjoy a challenge so I decided to step up.

boss-vs-leader-800x800-300x300My work has already started. We’ve got a new logo, new direction, and new website.

I lead with my heart and I move with my team.

I’m enjoying my new responsibilities and

I hope my team and our students will enjoy this new journey.

We’re ready to do some!

ASSEMBLE!

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If you liked this blog, just wait until you see the next one, where I compare our current Senshido Team to other heroes themselves!

Stay Safe,
Wes Derequito
Ara Academy & Senshido International Team Leader

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