Janet Rosen wrote:
The essence I come away with is the combo of be clear about what it is you are doing (eg motives, level of commitment) and do not delude yourself about what you are doing or what results you can expect from what it is you are doing.
I think that George is saying more than that. I think he is saying that it is vitally important to the martial art of aikido that some students devote themselves to becoming the future masters, and that in order to become masters, they must train today like the masters used to train. If I understand George correctly, he believes that (a) there are some students out there who are fooling themselves by dreaming of becoming masters (annoying, but not really a problem), and (b) there are some students out there who have the potential to become masters, but don't know how to go about it, to the detriment of the future of the art (a real problem).
I think that aikido's success is partly to blame. Back in the day, anyone who wanted to study O Sensei's art had to study with O Sensei. Today, however, anyone who wants to study O Sensei's art can use AikiWeb's dojo search to find a dojo nearby. Moreover, back in the day, everyone who wanted to study O Sensei's art already had a public school or university background in judo or kendo. Today, potential students don't, and so are unable to judge the quality of their local dojo. By the time they have the necessary experience, they may have been thrown off the shihan track.
Olympic champions typically start their sport at the local level, but as they grow older they transfer to a more demanding school (perhaps a university). Eventually, their coach recognizes their potential and pushes them toward the few coaches who are even more demanding, who are perfectionists.
I have a question: If today someone in his or her twenties would like to become a master of aikido, what should that person do? It would seem to me that devoting himself to training and seminars would not be enough. He or she must uproot, if need be, and travel as far as necessary to join a dojo where he can practice constantly with a current master, and there devote himself to training and seminars. And this devotion should be with the understanding that even such students may not make it to the big leagues, because of insufficient talent or injuries or fate.
Is this what the person must do? And how would we get the message to that person? Are internet forums enough, or must a local teacher take his most talented student aside and urge him or her to move on?