Ron Tisdale wrote:
I am beginning to think that people like David Valedez, Bob Wolfe, Ellis Amdur and others are often more on the forward edge of aikido than some of us stuck in the mud of organization, affiliation, and rank. A governing board of aikido would have no place for people like that, and it would be to the detriment of Aikido and each and every person who practices it.
I think that, now that a generation of Aikido teachers has reached 6th Dan, you will see a number of them getting "creative" so to speak. No approach is without its inherent limitations and many of the folks that have gotten to this level are aware of the limitations in what they have been doing and are looking for something to take them to the next level.
In my own case, Saotome sensei has been adament that there is no "style" in Aikido so I have been operating with no constraints in that department for years. Since I haven't even come close to exhausting what Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei have been teaching , I still put alot of focus on mastering what they've been teaching but not in a detailed technical way, but focusing on the principles of what they are doing.
When it comes to teaching, I am completely different from any of my teachers... totally different. And I think that this is precisely what is needed for folks within our organization. The new generation of teachers should provide different ways of looking at what our teachers have been doing, emphasizing different aspects of what we've been taught, providing alternative explanations, etc What would be the point of developing another generation of clones?
Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei are both quite active; one can train with them whenever one wishes to make the effort. We don't need clones, we need people who can give different perspectives on what they are doing. There are folks out there who have been training for decades. If the any particular method of training or explanation of principle was going to work for them it would have by now. They need to see other ways of training, different explanations of the principles, etc. That's why people like Ellis Amdur and Mike Sigman are so important because, although they have enough Aikido to undretsand what we do, they are primarily from outside and can bring fresh insight into the mix. The Aiki Expos have been an integral part in changing the Aikido of many of the senior folks I know. You can even see how someone like Ikeda Sensei has actually changed what he does and how he teaches based on what he learned from various people he connected with at the Expos.
Then there are the folks from "inside" Aikido who are trying to be craetive about how they train themselves and how they teach what they know. They are the ones who have sought out these "alternative" teachers and are now engaged in incorporating the insights they've had into their Aikido. I think these teachers wil lbe integral in keeping Aikido "alive" as it goes into the future.
But don't sell the "stylists" short... Teachers like Shioda, Mochizuki, Tomiki, Hikitsuchi, Saito, Tohei, Shirata, Nishio, etc. had their own unique approaches to the art and we don't always need to look to "outside" influences to make the jumps in our training that we want; often we simply need exposure to different Aikido approaches. Teachers like Auge, John Stevens, Pat Hendricks, Clint George, Wiliam Gleason, etc. are preservers of knowledge that can be of great value. But people need to look beyond the boundaries of their own little "boxes"... We should be training with all of these teachers, not simply training with the folks who "do what we do".
The combined knowledege contained within these different styels as passed on by the different teachers who have chosen to pass it on as it was taught to them is vast indeed. But in my opinion, the people who will end up recognized as the foremost practitioners and teachers of the next generation will be the folks who took the elclectic approach and not the people who specialized in a given style or approach.