Joseph Bowen wrote:
Aikido is a great martial art, beyond any doubt, but it has other characteristics that distinguish it other than its philosophy.
I respectfully disagree. Part of my realization of this came from reading Karl Friday's book, Legacies of the Sword. A lot of what I though were technical properties of Aikido are also found in Kashima Shin Ryu and probably a lot of other "ryu" that I don't know about. I also found a book with 400 year old Dutch prints depicting people doing Ikkyo, Iriminage and Shihonage. It has become clear to me that what differentiates Aikido is why we practice and the results O'Sensei hoped we might have.
I don't think that what is commonly thought of as Aikido philosophy is actually part of O'Sensei's thought. In my personal definition, aikido philosophy is Morihei Ueshiba's thought. This needs to be discovered in the books, Takemusu Aiki and Aiki Shinzui. These are incredibly difficult to understand, so I have found John Stevens' books very helpful. However, what I have found even more helpful are the lecture and practice sessions given by Stevens Sensei, Endo Seishiro Sensei and the current Doshu.
I realize that this is just an opinion. Also, my opinions change, to tomorrow I may think differently. However, my answer to the poll is an emphatic "yes." Otherwise, in my opinion, people won't understand why they are supposed to be practicing. Of course, my whole argument is based on my opinion that the whole focus of Aikido practice is to understand the founder's teachings. Most people don't seem to think that way and to them, talking is probably a waste of time. Perfectly understandable.
Sorry about the length,