Re: Aikido survivors (Voices of Experience)
Kevin's post, above, comparing aikido to monasticism is very interesting and revealing. I think that the vast majority of people who do aikido today (here in the US, for sure, and probably around the world) are aikido "laypeople." That is, our practice is an important part of our lives, but not the indisputable organizing force and focal point of everything we do.
I want to say one more thing about the "going through the motions" issue. The idea that you have to bring 100% mental focus to every single moment of every single class in order to benefit from it is fairly extreme. It's also based on the idea that the conscious mind is running the show, which is a very "Western" post-enlightnement perspective. Consciousness and awareness flow in many ways. The body (by movement, etc.) can train the mind, as well as vice versa. Mental and physical focus and attention come from practice, and I really don't believe you need to have it all together before you step on the mat. (Of course, if you're a danger to yourself and others, then you should get it together a bit more before throwing people around).