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I have been told Kaizen is a new term or concept for the Japanese. Kaizen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaizen) falsl under that new wine in an old bottle thing. It really is like many things I use in my practice not stated directly in Aikido's writing. But, possibly modeled in O'Sensei as part of how he practiced budo. I think it is clear he was always striving for improvement.
It is something I really try to establish in my Aikido; improvement continually within my practice of Aikido. I think it is another one of those secrets that go unnoticed, or over-looked so it isn't stressed. I also think it isn't as appealing because it sounds so common, and seems to go without saying. But that isn't Kaizen, I think there is a conscious effort and mind set that goes along with integrating the concept of Kaizen into practice.
It is clear Kaizen is generally associated with a process that reflects modernization. I call the Kaizen of today a gendai thing. But I think the idea of continual improvement is a old one for the Japanese and in found in Budo.
From my experience I have come to understand there is a mindset of dedicating yourself to always improving which is going forward. And avoid sliding back which would be not working toward constant improvement.
Through the years of studying the Kaizen model, I have been able to recognize it in other theories and models in all sorts of fields. I feel based on that and my personal experience Kaizen might be a turbo boost for many in improving their practice.