Peter Rehse wrote:
It is clear that a lot of thought and experience went into the article. I'd like to add my commendation.
There are things that I would disagree with mainly in regards to the best Aikido being found outside of Japan. I know little of Aikikai Hombu but even within that organization there is some awesome Aikido available in this country. Several members from Aikiweb have discovered that and go out of their way to make regular trips to Japan if not to study there for extended periods. All three Aikidoka mentioned in your article are products of that system.
I'd also say that the article reflects where your Aikido has taken you. My opinions, certain to change as my experience increases, differ from yours in several aspects. I wonder, as my time in art approaches yours, if there will be a convergence or not.
Still - well thought out, well tempered. Thanks for the article.
When I write about Aikido, there's no doubt my experience is limited when it comes to some of the other organizations such as theYoshinakai or Shudokan. I don't have much of a sense of who their senior folks are... but in terms of many of the other, I hesitate to call them "styles", maybe "streams" would be better, like the Hikitsuchi stream, the Yamaguchi stream, the Shirata stream etc. even when there are still very skilled senior instructors in Japan, often their largest following is over seas. A number of these teachers have more students in Europe and / or the US than they do at home. As the last of the direct students of the Founder pass away, there simply aren't the range of folks in Japan that there are here or overseas in general.
On the other hand, our own teachers are passing away at an unfortunately quick pace. We've lost Kanai Sensei, Akira Tohei Sensei, Toyoda Sensei, Sugano Sensei's health is shaky... I think whether any of these teachers will leave behind students who are at or will later attain the level of their teachers is open to debate.
I am hopeful about Aikido's future however.. One of the things that makes me optimistic is that my generation of instructors, while not perhaps attaining the full level of proficiency attained by their teachers, has developed some very creative and effective ways of teaching what we have mastered. I think this may, in time, make a higher level of practice more accessible to the wider Aikido community than it was.
Teachers like Kevin Choate Sensei or Wendy Palmer Sensei, both students of Saotome Sensei, or Tres Hofmeister Sensei, a student of Ikeda Sensei, have done wonders in making their teacher's very sophisticated Aikido comprehensible to a wider group of students.
Folks like Ostoff and Nevelius Senseis, students of Endo Sensei in Europe, have developed a very creative way to teach ukemi which is quite revolutionary for many students of the art, They are teaching this system all over Europe and the United states.
William Gleason Sensei continues the tradition begun by Yamaguchi Sensei. Takeda Sensei in Japan may be the most notable of Yamaguchi sensei's successors but I doubt he provides anything like the detailed explanation of technique provided by Gleason Sensei.
Clint George, Mary Heiny, Lind Holiday, Jack Wada, and Tom Read Senseis are all fantastic teachers whose aikido was inspired by the practice at Shingu under Hikitsuchi Sensei. I think this "stream" is more vital here than it is in Japan itself...
All of these teachers have gone beyond their own instructors in terms of developing creative teaching methodologies. Given events like the Aiki Expos in which there has been an amazing exchange of ideas, the fact that these teachers travel quite a bit to teach, that books and videos are starting to be available that do more than just show senior teachers doing their Aikido, but rather contain actual instruction, all of this makes me think that despite the rapid growth of the art and the relative scarcity of the top level teachers, the general level of Aikido will get better rather than worse. Only time will tell...
Thanks to everyone for their kind words.