Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
I always like the anecdote about aikido in which someone asks Ueshiba "I would like to learn your aikido", whereupon Ueshiba replies "that's funny, everyone else wants to learn their own aikido".
The point being that aikido is more of a personal exploration than a set standard. However, I agree that most mystesism (can't spell!) is just stuff repeated by others, whereas in rare cases it does express a real understanding that cannot be put in conventional terms (for example, I consider ki to be a 'model' of how things work, and one which is flawed, but is simpler for explaining many things). However, we must critically assess all the information which we obtain - and I believe that is a big problem with aikido.
Technological advancement is not done specifically because people are clever, but because people can record knowledge for future generations, and future generations can critically appraise this (whether deductive reasoning or empirical reasoning). As an aikido community we need to get together and produce falsifiable hypotheses i.e. underlying fundamentals in aikido which can be tested and refined or rejected. We are still in a stage where different aikido clubs do radically different things, and there has been no effort to objectively assess the advantages and disadvantages (possibly because an assessment in the dojo is nothing like an assessment within real combat).