Keith Kolb wrote:
I don't believe in the concept of "ki." The idea that there is some form of energy inside us and all around us that we can project from our bellies to our fingertips is a bit mystical to me. I may be wrong, but I think the idea of "ki" is integral to Aikido. "Ki" being a mystical concept, mysticism is integral to Aikido. IMHO of course.
Ah -- OK. Personally, I don't equate the notion of "ki" with "mysticism." Rather, I'd probably say that the kind of things that Mike Sigman writes about above (eg Shinto) would more fall along the lines of "mysticism."
There are elements of "faith" in budo training (and pretty much any other kind of endeavor), I think, though. Whether that's "mysticism" or not would probably depend on the person considing it.
As for striking with the intent to do damage: I will concede that there are aikidoka who have no problem with my willingness to beat the crap out of my attacker if you concede that that are many who would have a problem with it.
Oh, of course I'd say that there are some folks out there in the world of aikido who have a problem with people who are willing to "beat the crap" out of someone. The same could probably be said about any martial art, but I'd guess that the percentage of those who have a problem with such is probably higher in aikido than, say, in krav maga. But, then again, I do know of at least one aikido T-shirt that states, "We put the 'harm' back into 'harmony'"...
On the topic of "aikido is love," the founder himself has said things like, "the path of aikido is the path of protecting love," "the path of aiki is the manifestation of love," and "true aikido is 'love'." (First two quotes from "Takemusu Aiki" and the last quote from "Aikido" (thanks, Peter!) both translated from the original Japanese by me.) The character used for "love" is, indeed, 愛. Personally, I'm far from understanding what this really means, so I can't say much about this topic.
Any way, I wouldn't say that aikido is unique in such thoughts. Even Kano sensei has written about the principle of "jita kyoei" (mutual welfare and benefit) for judo. I'm sure that those folks (myself included) who have been on the receiving end of some judo techniques will say that my impact with the earth (oof) sure didn't feel so beneficial to my health! Yet, I can understand how the principle of "jita kyoei" comes through in the actual keiko and the shugyo.
In any case, as far as the topic of those who have not taken aikido who wish to share their views, as long as they do so in a respecful manner that's conducive to meaningul exchanges of thoughts, I'm fine with their participation.
To conclude, I personally think that some interesting observations about aikido have been made by many folks in this thread. If anything, it's an exercise to help delineate my own thoughts in the matter...