At the heart of any organization are the people that make it run. We often casually refer to these people as being a part of the Core team. But what does it really mean to be a part of the Core Team that makes an organization function?
In our work lives, there are people you can rely upon to keep you engaged in the daily work. Those people are the Core team; the ones that retain a significant amount of knowledge about the way things work and often about the way they used to work. They become the keepers of an organizational history; owners of knowledge that was hard won by putting in the hours necessary to obtain it. Or they were there for a long enough to have passively acquired it.
Another part of the Core Team are those people without which the organization cannot function. These people may not have a long tenure, but they occupy a position within the organization that is critical to the overall functioning of the system. They are the people that make the organization operate, executing critical roles and can oftentimes go unnoticed (especially if they are executing their jobs flawlessly).
So in an Aikido dojo, who are a part of the Core Team? Who are the Core Students?
Simply, they are the students who comprise the basic, essential, foundational, or enduring part of the dojo. Some have been there a long time, racking up many years of practice and service to the dojo and the art. Others are new but their demeanor, attitude, and practice are well-regarded amongst their peers. They are dedicated and participate in dojo activities. When looking up and down the line when bowing in, it’s the people you notice missing. The ones that you’d expect to be there.
Much of life is showing up, but in Aikido it’s an even bigger part. You can’t have uke and nage without being present. But that isn’t the only prerequisite for being a Core Student. People have to come to rely upon you for technical knowledge, emotional support, or simple camaraderie. Being a Core Student is about being a central part of the social system of the dojo and it’s something that we should all aspire to.