Monday, April 7, 2014


What is kaizen?

Kaizen is a Japanese term made up two characters that mean 'to change' and 'for the better.' Kaizen has been embraced by Western business as 'continuous improvement,' but kaizen is much more than just a mere business concept. It is a way of thinking. It involves exploring, knowledge, learning, growth, reflection, change, and improvement.

I am currently the finance director on a not-for-profit organisation and engaged in a 'discussion' with fellow board members and management over governance issues. I have applied kaizen to develop strategy and tactics that promote continuous improvement in real terms. This direction is being resisted as the imperative of fellow board members, as it is with many boards, is to maintain the status quo all the while paying lip service to the principal of continuous improvement.

I shared my frustrations with a local shopkeeper who I frequent regularly. He brought up the issue of kaizen without my prompting. I was very surprised. He explained how he knew of the concept because his son is being taught traditional jujutsu and the instructor refers to the concept.

The managing director particularly, but all of the directors generally, pay lip service to the concept of kaizen. They do not explore, gain knowledge, learn, and MOST importantly, reflect. Reflection should never be underestimated. In addition, the managing director mistakes expending energy for movement in a direction.

In a martial arts sense, simply training will only get you so far. In order to continuously improve you need to explore, gain knowledge, learn, and reflect. Reflection is critical to the growth process. Many in the martial arts are action oriented. That is not a commitment to continuous improvement.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

'Nobody Deserves To Be Raped'

'Brazilian women rally: "I don't deserve to be raped"' is the title of an article published in the age today.

Among the very many valid points the article makes about rape and rape culture is the following:
These are just some of the facts, not feelings, that make up the reality of sexual violence. Most sexual assaults are inflicted by people known to the victim (with roughly 40% of all reported sexual assaults taking place in the survivor’s home). Just over 18% of American women are the survivors of sexual assault, and only a quarter of these are inflicted by strangers. Almost half of survivors were assaulted by a friend or acquaintance, with almost a fifth assaulted by an intimate partner. Almost one tenth of survivors were raped by a relative. Only a quarter of all reported rapes were perpetrated by a stranger.
What does this mean? It means that I have more to fear from seeking the protection of a male friend to walk home at night (as a victim blaming culture urges me to do) than I do from the stranger I’m taught to believe is lurking around the corner.
Yet the rhetoric persists around ‘evil monsters’ who hide in the dark waiting for unsuspecting, na├»ve and improperly dressed women to walk by and become cautionary tales.
As I've discussed in previous posts, the fact that the vast majority of rapes are perpetrated by familiars rather than strangers should have a profound impact on women self defence courses and other methods that train women to protect themselves from sexual violence.

The tactics and techniques devised and taught by these activities should be different when the attacker is defined as a familiar than when defined as a stranger as is the basic assumption of most tactics and techniques taught by current women's self defence courses and other activities designed to prepare a female to survive a violent encounter.

It behoves anyone designing or teaching these types of courses to have an understanding of the realities of the threats faced by their trainees. Not beliefs or opinions but facts and knowledge gained from studying the subject from reputable sources.