Matthew Zsebik wrote:
Does a website like that have a big impact on the Aikido world?
I've seen people work the internet to sell themselves and then their wares but does it really make a difference?
It's kinda hard to tell from my vantage point.
On initial reading, I would have to say no. I based that in this particular case on the fact that AJ, a large and popular website, is currently mostly in English (although there is a concerted effort to change this on a daily basis) and it is predominantly read here in America. Of course, I don't have any website statistics to prove that, but any evidence to the contrary would only go towards proving my counter thoughts, which are as follows:
When I think about it and extend the consideration of your question out into the future I find that the answer is a resounding YES! Yes, a website can have a considerable measurable effect on the community which it serves. I have already stated, when you have a group with their own particular bent on the facts take that information and put it out in many of the world's major languages through an easily available media to a targeted audience there is bound to be an astounding effect. Certainly it can't be discounted as a probability.
If we take this basic premise and extend it out in time we can predict a disturbing trend. Metaphorically speaking, (and please allow me the literary latitude) that the actions of the zealot of today are only outdone by the actions of the son of the zealot tomorrow. Okay those are broad strokes. In no way do I mean to paint everyone with the same brush. There are obviously more people who read things on a website with a grain of salt, than who do not. However, there are those who defend the opinions they read on a website, and they will do so to the day they die. Of course, to do so is their right. However, they haven't done any of their own research. It is therefore safe to say that their entire thinking is based upon the words of others - others with agendas and motives not known by reader. It is these people that I refer here to as zealots, and solely in this case, Aikido zealots. That doesn't mean that I don't also see them as real fine people. Just as with friends of mine whose politics I question, they are simply real fine people with whom I happen to disagree.
As we continue to extend this out into the future, we can agree that many of these same individuals are now or will eventually become Aikido instructors. In such a case they will be in positions of authority while holding opinions based upon information they once read on a website that they now have come to believe as aikido fact. They will pass these aikido opinions
to their students as aikido facts
, and in turn, when these students become teachers they will do the same, and so on down the line until we get unquestionable aikido truth
. We have the benefit of being close in time to the life of the Founder. However, one hundred years from now there will not be such a benefit, and so the stories that are carried forward will become canon, true or not. I have already observed many irrational cases of this, but that is not what this thread is about, so I will leave that for another time.
It is also predictable that many of these teachers or those that will become teachers will travel, move and settle in other countries, thus seeding the process in other countries. There are already many instructors from the United States that travel extensively in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and (gasp) even Japan.
I think it fair that one should not just criticize, as that is the easy part and does not (necessarily) take substantial thinking, merely an emotional verbal regurgitation. I have proposed that with Aikido Journal that they step up and step out from behind the controversy of what some would say is an apparent biased stating of the history of Aikido, one based partially on the economic recovery possible by supporting one group over another. I am not the first, nor the only one to say this.
I offer that by becoming a non-profit organization where there is no private ownership of the archival and documentary materials of the Founder and his direct Uchi-Deshi that the Aikido community would be better served. That does not take away who gets the credit for bringing these materials to light. It also does not take away the possibility of those same individuals being paid in some capacity to manage the materials. What it does is give the process some oversight by a board of directors who answer to a higher authority, so to speak. More importantly it would give a level of transparency so that the Aikido community can feel confident that what they are seeing, reading, etc. is not being manipulated in any way. I envision a Museum where people can go and see these materials for themselves. They would have the opportunity to examine these materials with their own eyes and make up their own minds as to what to think. I believe that these materials should be kept separate from the academics whose theories put forth their own opinions about how we should view these materials, academics that have a stake in publishing their findings in the for-profit world. Not that those theories are unimportant in their own right, just that they should be kept separate.
In any case these are just my thoughts, opinions and ideas on the matter. Mashu
since you asked the question what are your thoughts on the matter?