Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)
I don't know what you want to call it, rank aikido, or whatever, but it does exist. Every seminar I have ever gone to has had at least a couple glaring examples of sandan or higher that have poor technique, no ability to relate to their partner, no adaptability, or some combination of those things. I don't know why anyone would be offended by David using Moriteru as an example. I really doubt he meant any disrespect, and he probably wouldn't mind if you critiqued his own technique. Why is the doshu so special and we are not? One of the important traits of a warrior is to not put anyone above or below you.
Many people who have trained for a decade or more believe that their long duration of time spent in the art makes them capable, and deserving of rank. But how honest has their training been? Many of these people are stuck at a plateau, and are unable or unwilling to break past it. I believe this phenomenon of rank aikido is to blame. Why do we have people with 30 years experience doing sankyo after sankyo on a cooperative uke thinking that they are doing aikido, but these same people are afraid to explore what aiki really is?
Strongly related to this, I find aikido people talking about being open, and spontaneous, and egoless quite often. I also find that aikido people, especially high ranks, are the most closed minded, the least adaptable, and still have big egos.
About Morihei, first let me say I don't "know" anything that he was doing; all I know is what I've read and seen in pictures or video. Morihei was against competition, but what about when he faced off with the naval officer who got frustrated and threw down his bokken? What about when Morihei would let someone take aim at him with a firearm and "dodge" the bullet? If two people are engaged in a competitive activity, but each person is interested in the other's improvement, is it really a negative thing? As far as the jo trick, I don't think it was a physical trick. I think it was more at the mental level, a form of mind control, which is what I believe aiki has the potential to be.
I can't say how we can fix this, or if we should even try. All I know is that we should remember why we started training, be brutally honest with ourselves, and find as many like minded people as we can to train with. I still am passionate about my aikido practice and want to learn more about it and myself.
What great fun this thread has been!