When my sensei did his aikido full time at the Yoshinkan Hombu dojo back in the 60's what he saw horrified him, he told us. White belters who'd just begun their first lessons was given similar treatment when receiving technique as though they are Dan Ranked practitioner. He was covertly told to not to give quarters even though they are white belters. The rationale being it is to separate the wheat from the chaff. If they don't like it or can't take it... then leave. Those who stayed, received the full transmission, nothing was held back. If you can take the fall, you will learn how to give the fall as well. Simple as that. You are too afraid to take the fall, you'll be sidelined and nothing much will be taught to you.
Fast forward to now...I wonder how many people who comes into my dojo are going to stay on if we start pounding them hard into the mat on the first day?
Maybe aikido is a funny art... you just can't do it correctly by looking at it. A student has to feel the technique, the pain and agony included to fully understand the fundamentals of the technique. Maybe it is me (dumb, pain loving sucker) who must feel the technique done on me repeatedly for my dumb mind to register it successfully.
Larry, maybe now, there are more people who are afraid to take the hard route that are joining the dojo environment as oppose to genuine martial art enthusiast. You know, new age fruitie kind of crowd equating aikido with some kind of new age yoga? I can only guess.
I am saying this because, it is damn difficult to retain genuine students. We have lots of enquiry and newbie try outs. Somehow, when they go home after the first lessons with bruises and bumps here and there, we seldom see them again at the dojo. <Sigh...>
Maybe the Yoshinkan Hombu have a good methodology to cater to all flavours... they separate the class to three levels. Ippan, kenshu and Senshusei. Ippan for beginners or hobbyist; Kenshu for more serious hobbyist or budo enthusiast and the Senshusei course for the dumb sadomasochist individuals (apologies to all the senshusei trained friends on this forum
Another point that I want to address is that when those people who have done some prior MA before, then come and do aikido for 2 months, able to 'defeat' (whatever that means) the black belters of the said dojo and then bitch about how ineffective aikido is on the street; well I said, go and try be a dojo yaburi. Defeat the sensei there; if you are successful, then take down his dojo signboard, Break apart his signboard as in the traditional "Breaking of signboard ritual of olden days". Don't bitch about how ineffective aikido is when the only person who have defeated are some regular black belters (who could only be there as hobby). <--rant mode off-->