The following is part rant, part serious soul searching question on the general practice and instruction of Aikido as done worldwide.
Have we as Aikidoka begun to accept a culture of martial mediocrity within our art? In other words, has objective martial effectiveness and its related elements within Aikido training become something so abstract, so diametrically opposed to the concept of "peace and harmony with the universe", so much not a major goal of modern training that often folks move through the ranks into the higher levels of Yudansha without understanding simple elements of body control that are addressed by training with the goal of objectively effective technique?
My reason for asking these questions is because recently I see a trend where many Aikidoka appear to be clueless about how to achieve simple tasks like maintaining one's footing and vertical posture in the face of a shoot or tackle, or questionable ability to comfortably evade certain types of unarmed attacks (i.e. tai sabaki) or have a very rudimentary understanding of how Aikido uses the balancing structures of the body to operate effectively. It's as if the fundamentals of Aikido only exist as sound principles in the protective environment of cooperative practice. As soon as an actual challenge or serious attack occurs the principles don't work anymore (at least this is the impression I get from many).
When I think of Ueshiba M. and some of his Uchideshi's raw martial abilities and what I often see today passing for effective technique by upper level Yudansha I tend to wonder. When one asks the typical Aikidoka "who is a great Instructor" you will often find the answer to be someone who is very good when his Uke cooperates (iow a good demonstrator) but suddenly questionable when faced with a serious attack. Why is this?
Has Aikido gone the path of modern Wushu, with practitioners learning movements that only work as shown in a choreographed environment? Are there practitioners and moreseo, Instructors who plumb the depths of Aikido as an effective martial art (along with the other development benefits as well) and embody the fullness of Aikido and teach these methods to their students?
Imho an Aikidoka who understands certain principles (not even having to do with offensive techniques) should be capable of not having his balance easily taken by a shoot or tackle, not allowing a situation of resistance allow him to resort to Jujutsu and Judo techniques or muscular and mental overtension, or not have to resort to ground grappling in the majority of serious attack situations because he does not easily allow himself to be taken to the ground (this does not mean not cross training, since there are special situations where grappling knowledge serves well). Basically, he does not allow the attacker or the attack to easily draw him out of the tactical range that keeps him in control and keeps his Aikido as usually practiced effective, without resorting to other tactics from other arts too easily and quickly. Is it that folks simply don't train anymore to the levels where the martial principles of Aiki are so ingrained that they quickly abandon Aiki principles when faced with serious attack?
This is my rant and my question. When folks see "flaws" and "lacking" areas in Aikido and try to "improve" it by simply adding things like boxing, Jujutsu, Judo or wrestling tactics is this a reflection of the general level of martial tuition available out there in Aikido, where the student rushes to every other style out there to act as a crutch towards effectiveness instead of taking the time to plumb the depths and learn what truly makes Aikido an extremely effective martial art within its own paradigm?
Have we grown to accept that in the face of other arts we cannot stand on the same level in the area of martial applicability? I am not referring so much to self defence, but more to the mastery of the Aiki basics that makes an effective Aikidoka and Budoka.
I thank for for allowing me the opportunity to get this out there. Apologies for the length of the post. Comments are very welcome.