Joshua Reyer wrote:
I'm not sure that's true, though. For one, I don't know that the "average aikidoka" generally considers themself an expert. Certainly the overwhelming number of people on these forums, for example, are quick to say, at least, "I'm not an expert," "I'm still learning," etc. Conversely, as a baseball fan, I've certainly come across softball players who have inflated perceptions of how much insight their fast-pitch game gives them.
My question is, why should we expect aikido not to follow a normal binomial distribution when it comes to commitment/talent/etc?
Yes, I guess even I was being too "open" with what I was saying. I agree, not many aikidoka, even among those that are, would ever say that they are an expert. Also, I imagine there are such league players as you suggested. But can we not still ask, "Why does someone in Aikido that has only committed what in other endeavors is easily acknowledged as 'dabbling' need that level of commitment to be seen as something else, as something on par with true investment?" Or, "Why do softball players in a co-ed league not feel compelled to ask major league players, 'I do practice twice a week and have a game on the weekend, am I a real ball player?'" I think we can do this with anything - take guitar: "Hey, Mr. Van Halen, I pick up the guitar here and there, am I being real when I say I 'study' guitar?" Take Zen: "Roshi, I see that zazen is important, I do it for about 20 minutes, once a week, won't I reach awakening through this or am I wasting my time?" Etc.
Of course, the answer is obviously "yes and no" to each of these questions but that answer is completely based on the logic of "some committed time is better than no committed time." I'm not sure how much we want to satisfy our egos on that one - which is why we most often try not to be too aware of how this logic is supporting us while we go ahead and make full use of it - concentrating on the "yes" of "yes and no". However, I'm not trying to answer these questions. I'm asking about how come they are asked so often in Aikido. Why isn't it obvious to us when we are dabbling? Moreover, if we are dabbling, if we are choosing to do that, or even if we are choosing to see ourselves as someone that can only dabble (supposedly due to life circumstances), why can we not be fine with our decision, such that again we do not have to ask, "Am I dabbling?" Or, at the least, why, if we feel compelled to ask the question of another, why when we are dabbling do we not want to hear that truth from the person we are asking to provide that truth - why when we are dabbling and when we ask another person if we are dabbling are we incapable of hearing, "Yes, you are dabbling." In the example about fast pitch "pros" - sure, I bet they are there, but when he or she is with friends and is commenting like a "pro" on the game they are all watching on the television, one can say, "Geesh, come on, you don't know what you're talking about - you're a local league player commenting on a person that has dedicated his life to the game," and have that come off as humor and not as an attempt to demoralize someone else. In Aikido, if you tell something like that to someone like that - you are basically telling them that they might as well quit or even that they are worthless. They don't hear: "Hey, keep doing what you are doing; you are undoubtedly going to gain some stuff; you are enjoying it; but be real about what you are doing and about what you are not doing." Why?
My feeling is that the lack of competition and the addition of "spiritual" discourse makes all of this very difficult for the average dabbling aikidoka to swallow. When you put these two things (i.e. no competition and spiritual discourse) into a system or an activity, everything says everything about you at the same time that anything is allowed to be everything. Thus, when you tell someone they are dabbling, when you point it out to them, etc., you are not just saying they are dabbling - you are saying they are a dabbler. You are also denying their "right" to not have their dabbling be part of that anything that can be everything. Hence, you cannot help but to affront with such accuracy in description.