I'd like to comment on the thread Aikido survivors
in the Voices of Experience forum, and I do it here since I only have half the experience needed to post there.
Every now and then thay you hear wonder why people quit aikido, making it sound like it is something unnatural - that the only natural thing once you are passed kyu stage is to continue for the rest of your life. Is used to kind of believe that myself, at least what myself regards. I didn't believe there would be a time when aikido was not a part of my life. Well, it happened.
Lots of people drop out never actually "quitting", if you know what I mean. They keep thinking they will come back to aikido, some day. Other things take its toll: work and family being the most common ones, but also other interests of various kinds. Doing aikido doesn't necessarily mean you put it as number one in your like (after family and work, hopefully). Sometimes music or something else takes time from your aikido, and sometimes up to the point that people stop going to the dojo.
I think I understand what Rupert Atkinson means, when he says people stop doing aikido due to worsening skill. The major reason here, I believe, is that these people for a longer period of time have trained very little. Some people can maintain an astounding level and even develop on less than one class a week of wither training or teaching, for years and years - others can not, and their technique detoriorate. This is hard to take, and I believe the choice is like increase dose, or leave - because this dose of training simply doesn't lead anywhere. Some of these people increase their training dose, because aikido is important to them. Others do not, propably because other things in life is more important. Some of these leave training. Some of them come back later. Others don't.
When Peter Goldsbury talkes about yudansha quitting due to politican reasons or simply conflicts with their teachers etc, I think we should remember that these are the people who take a decision to leave. It is a hard decision to take, but you do it and then you quit. I think this group should be distinguished from the group who haven't said to themselves that they have left aikido, but don't show up in the dojo any more.
To Mark's comment I would like to add: no, doing aikido is not as natural as brushing your teeth. Lots of senior aikido people think aikido is a part of life, and this is the only way it could be, period. For us who did leave, and found that there are many other activities with similar features regarding continous learning, learning about yourself and other people, and about control over you body... you have seen that these activities foster similar myths about their uniqueness, as aikido do, and you realise that there are meny roads to Rome - plus, some people actually do prefer Venice.
Probably I have misunderstand what Mark meant, but... I have left aikido, I haven't lost my teeth and my mouth doesn't smell.