Originally posted by Nick
The reason I am so adamant about maintaining tradition is, in fact, because it is the way "it's always been", but it's always been that way for a reason...
People have been building chairs for hundreds of years now. The basic shape and function of a chair has not changed. The correct way to build a chair has not changed. It's become... tradition. If you modified your chair too much, it would be unbalanced and uncomfortable. This is not to say there can be no variations. We have rolling chairs, high chairs, booster chairs... but all are basically built the same way. This can be thought of as aikido. Despite the different "styles" and the different people practicing them, if we don't maintain our tradition of building strong aikido, we'll be in a pretty uncomfortable place...
For thousands of years, doctors treated patients without washing their hands. They probably caused as many problems as they helped. One day, someone came along and changed the tradition because he had found a better and different way. He washed his hands.
As to chairs, I sure wouldn't want to work on my computer with a chair and desk built to specs created in the 1800's. I rather like the idea that people have tweaked with the edges.
Japanese martial arts were created in a Japanese vacuum for Japanese in a Japanese world. It was a closed world. Today, martial arts and the world for that matter is much more open with a wide and far reaching interchange of cultures, ideas and people. Japanese traditions are not even remotely able to stand up to this dynamic and we should be glad of that. We romanticize the Japanese, yet, we forget all the bloodshed, the atrocities, the racism, the lofty status of women, and all the other problems caused precisely because of that culture's traditions. Not that anyone else is any better, it's just that neither are they.
Nick, I agree that blindly throwing away tradition is not always a good thing but blindly following tradition is just as bad. If there's a better way to do something then we should try it. Expanding and broadening the art will not only make it stronger but will make it significantly stronger. Aikido will survive just fine.