Re: Rank-Aikido (pun intended)
Thanks for the comments. Good points.
I think you are right in pointing out that for most of us when we form these groups we do our best to make them larger and larger. I didn't mean to suggest that this partitioning and/or exclusion happens at any kind of conscious level -- certainly not at the level of some sort of ill-will. I am referring to a sub-structural level of popular Aikido culture.
In that sense, though we can try to make these groups larger and larger, more inclusive at the level of conscious intent, culturally speaking, these groups of ours just make more divisions prominent. For example, these groups, or the members of these groups, often go on to hold the higher ranks in the dojo, the teaching positions, the teacher's confidence, more dojo responsibility, members of these groups travel together, attend events together, have extra workouts together, etc. Their pact to train more honesty never just stops there -- these group comes to manifest themselves in countless other ways within a dojo. Moreover, these groups are often distinguished according to age and gender lines as well -- such that most of these groups are made up of young males. In the end, at a sub-conscious level, these groups can definitely represent a kind of exclusiveness in the minds of the outsider/other: lower rank, female, older member, etc.
In the end, conscious will or not, we are still forced to simultaneously say, "Aikido is a way to reconcile the world," at the same time that we are saying, "Aikido is not for everyone." I would propose that we cannot have it both ways. We cannot say one without contradicting the other. Right now, in my opinion, much of Aikido is suffering from being firmly lodged within this contradiction. That is why much of Aikido is neither all that martial nor all that spiritual. (Which may however be one reason why it is popular/modern.)
The trend up to now, in trying to reconcile this hypocrisy, has us only training more dishonestly. We try to make Aikido for everyone by having as many people as we can not really doing Aikido. We need a new trend, as a new generation, in my opinion. We need to find ways of having the positions of "not everyone can train martially" and/or "not everyone wants to train martially" NOT seem so obvious to us. I think it can be done, I think we at our dojo have been able to do it on a smaller scale, but I could be totally wrong with what we got going. Only time will tell. However, the one thing I do firmly believe I got right is that we got to be a heck of lot more creative in all regards if we want to move to a new trend in understanding both Aikido's spirituality and it's martial effectiveness. We have to become very dissatisfied with the party line of "not everyone can or wants to train martially." We have to move beyond the idea of making Aikido for everyone by having as many people as we can not do Aikido.