Jon Reading wrote:
When things evolve, we use nomenclature to differentiate the products. For example, we call a butterfly a pupa before it metamorphosises into a butterfly. We called early man homo erectus, not homo sapien. The nature of evolution is progressive; things either evolve or die out, they do not regress. Yet I am not convinced that aikido is evolving, merely changing.
I witness dojo after dojo claiming aikido, but not teaching aikido. They don't hang a picture of O'Sensei, they don't use Japanese terminology, they don't wear traditional gi and hakama, I could go on but will stop. Yet for all that they have changed, these dojo still call what they do "aikido" even though it resembles little of what was traditional aikido. Why will these dojo not leave behind "aikido" as they have everything else that is the martial art and move forward with their new martial art? Fear.
I ran into this problem when I first got back into aikido after a hiatus while in school. I'd call these places up and ask them when the aikido class was being held. I'd get well we don't teach aikido as a separate art. I'd then ask them where they learned aikido and what rank they held. They'd tell me they took some classes. Aikido was popular in the area I was at. They were jumping on the money band wagon by using aikido to bring people in the door.
I have always been somewhat of a purist. I don't have too much problem with people making up their own arts if they have the legitimate credentials to do so. However, don't call it aikido. Once you deviate from the art, it is no longer the art and to call it aikido is to do an injustice to the art and insult O'Sensei in my opinion. There is enough content in the art to take a lifetime to really learn and master. If your inclination is to do something else, so be it but call it what it is and rename what you are doing. As a "do" art, it is a path, a long and difficult path. For some, it just is not the right path for them.
I have studied other arts along the way. I have found that I used the other arts to improve my insights into aikido. If I saw something that was a cool move, I'd "aikidoize" it. I did this with kali (nikyo with sticks really hurts). I have used some "principles" from Systema to develop kaeshi waza since there is not a lot available on the topic. They worked nicely. However, they were very aikidoized when I applied them-i.e., you could not tell that some of the concepts came from Systema. Perhaps they just woke up something I had forgotten or had made me look at things differently. However, I did not run out and create a new art. My art is aikido, I like it and this is what I prefer to do. It does not mean I cannot deepen my understanding by looking at other arts to improve my aikido. However, if I go off and develop something else that strays in a different direction then I need to evolve another art.
Yes, aikido is changing. Do we call this evolution suggesting progression? I don't know. I would like to hope that the "new generation" is evolving the art as well as maintaining it. I hope O'Sensei did not mean for the art to be static.