Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)
Ron, as always, I think you have gone right to the heart of the matter in seeing this thread as a micro-version of the larger issue. It is definitely correct to say that how we feel and how we react to this thread is related to what I'm calling Rank Aikido on the mat. A lot of folks have looked at this thread, but a lot of folks that usually post aren't posting here - and this is exactly what I'm trying to point out without falling victim to the usual false solutions of "just train" and/or "train hard". Come one, folks just train now and folks train hard now. Here's how I see it: When the thing you are using to achieve something is flawed, you can't just say you can achieve that some final thing by using that flawed thing more. In this light, "just train" just means "just do more Rank Aikido," and "train hard" just means "try harder to do more Rank Aikido." So, thank you very much Ron for your insight into uncovering how this thread is functioning as a microcosm for the larger issue.
As to the "bad pic" thing - and even though this is not a thread on Moriteru - these are not just lucky shots of bad technique. Moriteru's technique hardly ever changes - even from rep to rep. If you train in the Aikikai and/or if you've been exposed to his technique, you know this. One can find these exact still shots in nearly any event he's demonstrated at - going back at least to the multi-volume video series he did when he was a young man. I would propose that if you cannot find these shots at some event, it is only because the camera angle wasn't there to record it. These shots represent architecture, not circumstance.
Moreover, let us step back a little and take a look at things a bit more objectively. Let us look beyond the name of Moriteru and instead look to the symbol of Doshu. Here, we have the apex of Aikido hierarchy (even if you are outside of the Aikikai federation, you still are looking at the grandson of the Founder - which is not entirely irrelevant no matter how modern Japan becomes) - which means if Rank Aikido does exist then this is the best place to see it; we have in the Aikikai Doshu the pinnacle distance from things usually used by other aikidoka to generate more honesty - things such as weapons practice, competition, spontaneous training environments, etc.; and we have the highest absence of intimacy (i.e. who is really in any kind of place to let the Doshu know that he's not really doing what he's thinking he's doing). From this point of view, you cannot really say that these pics are irrelevant - even though I think we can talk about this without getting stuck on the pics, if that is what one needs to actually say something reflective regarding this matter. However, this takes us right back to Ron's point: That we should look at how we need to get away from these pics in order to speak on this matter; how we'd like to speak on this matter but not if the apex of rank is involved (where we are always going to be kohai). Inversely, one can look at how many responses/posts a normal thread gets when it's some "no one" or some "kohai" getting flamed for something they didn't do or didn't do right. Where is all the "Well, that is just one bad shot" then?
Man, Ron, the more I think about it, the more you've said everything that could ever be said about this topic. Excellent job. Again - thank you.