Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?
David…I feel you! I think that we are getting at the same thing but from slightly different angles.
My main point, however, is that the culmination of your thesis is yours and yours alone. Your students may agree with your conclusions and thus decide to study with you to try to get to your level of understanding and application but this does not make it their own understanding because they did not leg out the path that got YOU there.
My guess is that they are studying a set pattern from which you set the principles [from your experience]. Even in an exercise designed to foster spontaneity there are guidelines. As you stated, that will always be the case. My observation was only that I did not see an addition to what has already been devised but rather a continuation of what has already been presented [to me]. That, of course, being a viable interpretation of how to help foster ‘it' in a much less scripted training format.
The question remains as such, how one fosters correct training and correct understanding within their students to be able to reproduce a level of true spontaneous application. Some say forms training are all you need -- that it contains all the answers. You say that it does not.
I'm just saying, from my understanding, any device that I create is not going to be outside the already established realm of forms training but instead an extension of it. You have to be able to give it taste, feel and sound or how else can you transmit it? Even if you feel that the transmission itself is ‘formless' you have to have ‘form' to point this out. I understand that you are not disputing this [or I believe that you are not].
In my mind, this transmission can only be realized by understanding the correct nature and role of the student. If one is to take into account the beginnings of our art or even to look to the times before it, you will see a standard was in place to help insure that the finer details were not wasted on those that were not ready to receive them. A prospective student had to have references, invitations and prior experience as well as participate in a formal interview process or they were just not accepted. All these things lean towards an understanding that there was to be an extreme commitment by the student. In return for this "extreme commitment" the student receives the whole transmission of the art, of which its martial capabilities have probably already been proven to be effective by a fine display of spontaneous application or why else go through this process?
In the early days of Aikido there was in fact competition, challenges and such that tested the efficiency of ‘spontaneous' Aiki. If the accounts from so many early instructors are just half way factual, the level of spontaneous martial application must have been astounding! Of course, they, as students of Osensei, had to go through this formal process of commitment. This commitment, without a doubt, then trickled its way down to every aspect of their routine training.
There is not too much of that today. This day and age all are deemed entitled to the transmission without this seemingly ‘undue process' which has helped to foster this ‘age of martial mediocrity'. If all are entitled, then there is no need for extreme commitment. Without the extreme commitment how deep do you really need to penetrate to be satisfied that you have ‘it'? The cycle perpetuates itself until you get to the point where the instructors that are churned out are under the delusion that the have ‘it' no matter what and the only seemingly set standard of testing the level of spontaneous application is in the format of a demonstration scenario where the attack of the ‘madly running Frankenstein with the outstretched arms' is accepted as a truth.
But, alas, that is just my observation.
Very brave David…calling for revolution like that!