Re: Article: The 20 Year Technique by Ross Robertson
this is an interesting article to me... as a lowly 4th kyu its something i've concerned myself with a lot lately. particularly since i've struck up a friendship with a 6th kyu in our dojo who is particularly interested in the martial applicability (and the spiritual essence, etc.). what seems to me to be true is this:
in a sense there is no "20 year technique" in that: 1. every technique can be applicable in certain situations soon after getting the basics of its movements down; and 2. every technique takes a lifetime to refine and master (that is: is infinite).
however, depending on who you are, which tai sabaki come more easily for you (as far as the physical / combat applicable aspects of aikido are concerned, it seems to me that it is probably tai sabaki that is really important... that is: once you are safely out of the way, have blended, etc. and are still balanced and open, a multitude of techniques seem to be available, etc.), which techniques strike your fancy, etc. certain techniques are going to be easier for you at the onset, and thus have martial applicability for you.
i know in our dojo irimi nage is often called "the 20 year technique". however, i love it in all of its variations, and in the first jiyu wazas (and later in the first few randoris) i ever did the bulk of the techniques i used were variations on irimi nage (some of which i don't even recall "learning"). but at this moment in my training, i think that technique makes a certain kind of sense to me that others do not. so, for me, it is probably more martial applicable than kaiten nage, which i struggle with. however, of course, there are lower ranked people in our dojo for whom this technique seems to be quite easy. etc. etc. etc.
which, honestly, (on a different line of thought) might be the danger in the notion of some dojo cho only teaching certain techniques in their dojo. just because a technique does not work for them, it does not mean it might not work for others. no matter who you are, your experiences in "street" situations are going to be specific, and so your idea of what "works" and "doesn't" is going to be colored by those situations. however, i think aikido has to remain as open, and as multivarious as possible. so, it seems that aikido sensei (and shihans, etc.) have a responsibility to teach as much technique as they can so that the breadth of possibilities in the art are shown. from there, it is up to the individual deshi to figue out via jiyu waza and randori what works well for them, while at the same time not neglecting techniques that do not -- because they might need to teach them some day.
and personally, as a final note, i think this last bit is important for the "deeper" aspects of the art. in that it seems to me that part of what aikido teaches spiritually is that multiplicity / infinity / variousness of life. and so as our techniques are meant to be a reflection (actualization? realization?) of the deeper aspects that float on the surface of life, our techniques should themselves be various in every respect. unlimited in number, ranging from easy to complex to unbelievably complex, with infinite variations, etc.
that's quite enough out of me, eh?