I read your last post with interest and agree with much of what you say. I think that respecting what your teacher shows means trying to copy it exactly for along time. Without going into the concept of shu, ha ,ri, which have been covered in other threads, there does come a time when a person begins their own study of what they have absorbed in an almost passive, imitiative manner, and begins to make it their own. I would not use the word experimentation, I would say study or research. I have also never seen a Shihan teach techniques against a "shoot" and I believe there are a number of reasons for this, IMHO. Somebody out there may "shoot"
me down for this but so be it.
Aikido evolved from battlefield techniques against men wearing armour and carrying katana and wakizashi, baring your back, even momentarily, as in shoot fighting, is an invitation to death, this is not a competition. If you are wearing armour and the ground is muddy with rain and blood you will do everything you can to remain on your feet, taking your opponent down with you would be a last resort, not a strategy. However, being able to retain your balance against ANY kind of attack would be expected from a well trained warrior, not as a result of rehearsing specifics, but as a result of a centred, stable posture. So I dont think a "traditional" Shihan would depart from the standing posture in basic instruction, except in formalised suwari and hanmi handachi practice. Rolling around on the ground and wrestling is very undignified and beneath the dignity of most Shihans, and that's another reason it wont be taught. Furthermore in many dojos in the West the emphasis upon learning more and more techniques often precludes the study of basics until people are no longer at the mudansha level, and then they begin to develop some real respect and appreciation for the practise they found so boring in the beginning, such as strong kamae, ashi sabaki and tai sabaki, the foundations of dealing with any attack.
However, IMO, at a certain stage, depending upon years of regular practise, condition, personal goals and inclination, it can and must be possible for those who wish to take their study further, to examine Aikido in relation to non standard attacks, not in order to learn to fight against other martial artists, or to prove that Aikido is "the deadliest fighting system ever", or other kinds of nonsense. No, out of a deep respect for preserving the integrity of a great Budo, not to change it or adulterate it, but to fully cognize the teachings embodied in the fundamental practise. I only have stories to go on, and some old black and white photos and movies, but most of the now peaceful, dignified Shihans we see gliding across the mat were fighters in thier youth, testing each other and their art to the limit. Most of them cross trained, either secretly or not, some of them got in street fights (read Aikido Shugyo by Shioda Sensei!) by accident or not?
I am too old now to want (or be able) to fight as I did in my 20's, but I see how difficult it is for many people whose only exposure to the truth of Aikido is in an Aikido dojo. For those of us who are both students and teachers the need to continue to learn in order to preserve is very real.
with respect, Alec