Christian Moses wrote:
Care to cite a source for that, and what word he used in Japanese for 'natural'? If it's 'natural' why would we need careful observation, we should just do it?
Once again, I think that Chris is spot on here... My own understanding of what O-sensei meant when he said that Aikido was "natural" was that the movements and energy involved in Aikido were the movements and energy found in nature. This does not mean it is necessarily "natural" in the sense of being how we, as human beings, are born with it and some how lose it as we get older. or some such.
The word "natural" means somethig different to the Japanese than it does to an American. The Japanese aesthetic strove for a sense of "naturalness" which was anything but natural. It takes a high degree of training and imposition of structure in order to learn to attain that so-called "naturalness".
For O-Sensei, the movements of Aikido were the movements of the Gods. I think that O-sensei saw training as allowing us to regain, in some sense, what Man did not have. It was a Divine Path for him, not something we already had naturally.
This discussion only points out what has been lost in Aikido. It is the folks from outside the art who have the best understanding of what "aiki" is. The folks from within the art have very incomplete notions of what constitutes the various principles which combine to create "aiki". The vast majority of what passes for Aikido out there is overly physical and dependent on muscular strength when compared to technique done using the principles of "aiki".
Aikido folks just need to get out more. The Expos offered a tremendous opportunity to expand our vision but only a very small portion of the Aikido community participated. I think those that did got a vastly expended notion of what our art should be but generally is not. The very best of the Aikido teachers have understood the principles of aiki but there has been a systematic dumbing down of what the art entails and with the rapid expansion in the number of practitioners world wide with the commensurate growth in the number of instructors who are teaching long before they have reached the level of understanding the original deshi had attained, there are now many people doing "Aikido" who only have the foggiest notion of "aiki" as it is understood in the aiki arts.