Yesterday was a happy day for me – I passed my first Aikido exam (5th Kyu). Of course, in this world it’s only a baby step, but for me it’s an achievement.

How it all began

My acquaintance with martial arts started in the autumn of 2017 when I joined the Goju Ryu Karate Club “Dojo” in Vilnius with the wonderful Sensei Artūras Vanagas. Since then I have been thinking how many parallels can be seen in martial arts and professional life.

Starting a new activity at a mature age, especially when you had nothing to do with it before, is a challenge. I remember how much you had to work on yourself in the beginning. After all, outside the dojo I was a professional in my field, where everything was clear, understandable and where I was in control. And here you are in an environment where you can’t even stand or take a step the way you should. This is how you get the first lessons in your ego and learn to leave it in the closet and the perfectionist side of your personality learns to rest more.I had a very similar feeling when I left my salaried job, when I started my coaching training and my coaching practice, when I had to put my head down at the first few times and accept that in order to fly, you have to learn to walk first.

The sensei and the manager

One of the key elements in my introduction to Eastern martial arts was my teacher. Even now I remember the morning training sessions and the philosophical interludes when we would discuss things of value. Sensei Arthur taught me to take a broader view and I am grateful for that. It is just as important to have a teacher on the professional path who helps us to see the bigger meaning in our everyday concerns and shows us the bigger goal we are moving towards. Often this is a supervisor, but it can be any colleague in the organisation or a mentor of choice. I can only be glad that I was lucky enough to have such a mentor.

Since life has brought me to France, obviously my Karate training was over. However, I didn’t want to take it so lightly and close that phase, forgetting the work, effort and development, so I officially joined the Aikido Club at the beginning of October 2021. I was faced with a triple challenge – a French-speaking environment and new terms, completely new techniques and very high-calibre colleagues (probably half of them with a first and higher dans), among whom you feel like a bambi staring at the bright light of a car. On the other hand, training in such an environment makes you grow and improve much faster than in a group of debutants.

Values in common

Again, the process of change – forgetting what you knew and opening yourself up to new experiences. Just like changing careers, it’s uncomfortable, sometimes unpleasant, and mistakes are inevitable. But just like in my professional change, when I understood why I was doing it and what I wanted to achieve with it, when I started training in Aikido I knew why I was doing it. And it’s because the values are very close to my heart – lifelong learning and continuous improvement, unconditional respect for each other regardless of status, openness to experience, positivity and 100% support. It’s an Eastern martial arts philosophy, but at the same time for me it’s about the soft skills at work that you carry with you as baggage from one job to another, that are part of your personality and that you are constantly developing. You can be incredibly technical, know all the nuances (hard skills), but without the first part, you will quickly hit the ceiling.

I believe that my professional soft skills helped me to start and continue practicing martial arts, but now I can safely say that what I get in training helps me to face the challenges of my professional life.

And what are your favourite activities where you find additional resources?

With best wishes for growth,


Your thinking partner online, in France (Savoie), Switzerland (Geneva region)