Well, I have to say I like this topic better then the infamous "Aikido does not work at...and so on" thread. I just wonder, how far can Aikido evolve before it is no longer Aikido?, and before someone else stumbles over a "New Art". In essence, when does the chimp stop being a chimp and become man? (Not a preference towards Darwinism, just a metaphor)
I remember a story involving O Sensei and a student watching an Aikido demo put on by one of the other schools. (Forgive me, I'm paraphrasing) The student said something along the lines of "That's nice," O Sensei's reply was "Yes, it's what they do, not what we do..." I wonder what the founder was thinking, was he thinking that's not Aikido? There's also another quote: "Several times in his final years Morihei sadly reflected, "I've given my life to opening the path of Aikido but when I look back no one is following me." Once an American disciple said to Morihei, "I really want to do your Aikido." Morihei replied, "How unusual! Everyone else wants to do their own Aikido."
So we're trying to adapt Aikido to the modern world, but I believe that if you wanted to throw someone 400 years ago, 300 years ago, 200, 50 years ago, for real, I'm sure they didn't ukemi their bodies through the air( Other then to try and protect themselves), rather tried to resist. It was a realization that the technique was required to work to keep them alive, and more likely then today, they would be using it. Today people have other senses of security, a nicely closed home, a nice lock, alarm system, guns, cell phones, what have you, martial arts to a lot is a last resort, when originally it was the only resort. I don't know how many instructors I have heard say, only use this as a last resort. Not all, many train their students well, but most get the idea, "I'm a weapon, I have to be careful", and in turn never realize when to use it, so they develop the idea, it doesn't work. I believe some Aikido is psychological to a particular dojo... some techniques outdated, but I do not believe any of those techniques are 100% useless. There are situations for every technique, just a matter of knowing immediately what to use when.
Guess that kinda went off topic a bit. I think it is important to train in the traditional methods, but also to include what we see as the "norm" for attacks. As it has been said "there are fast strikers today, and there were fast strikers yesterday", both go from "A" to "C", but somewhere along the lines "B" changed, but is "B" completely important, or is "A" (The initiation) and "C"(The finish) important. I was under the impression that we were supposed to respond somewhere in between "A" and "B", so we shouldn't even see "C", and only the beginning of "B". I was taught two styles of kicking, one JKD the other Karate, Both had the same "A" and "C", but "B" was different, in JKD there is no chamber of the leg (as I was told) in karate there is a chamber of the leg... the difference, one is faster given the practitioners are equal, but both can be defended against the same way, they just require different timing. The same is true with a "drunken lunge punch" and a jab... The jab being the harder of the two to defend, but same tenkan, different timing. My tenkan is probably different then the traditional tenkan, but it is still tenkan and therefore useful.
BJJ, Krav Maga, Kickboxing are all under the same pressure of "Does this work in a fight", "If I need to will I be able to defend myself". BJJ on the ground doesn't work with more then one attacker (I will only say something about this one because I take some BJJ classes on side of Aikido) so how are they any better off? Everything has it's limits to think otherwise is ignorance. To think you have an answer for every attack (Which I've seen martial artists claim) is arrogance. We all must improve, but I think rather then evolving an art, is is more about "How can I make this work in reality, without completely distorting it to the point it becomes something else." If we change a little, it's a variation of what is taught, and as long as we are taught the core, Aikido won't be lost, If we evolve too much it becomes something new, and if we only focus on the new, it is no longer Aikido, and we will no longer need to discuss it on Aikiweb... Just my views... In no way do they reflect that of too many others
By the way Dave, really good topic my friend.