George S. Ledyard wrote:
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.
I more or less agree with what you're saying, but I'd note that there are indeed a number of people within (mostly Japanese) Aikido that have various levels of accomplishment in these skills. The tradititonal idea that only a few should reach certain levels seems to have had an effect on slowing down the knowledge drip. Don't forget that the same thing appears to be true of Judo, but most western Judoka are clueless that they're missing anything.... the thought is just beginning to stir in their little punkin haids.
The same lack is found in western karate, kendo, iaido, jiujitsu, etc.... so while I'm sometimes embarrassed about how many years I went with some pretty good techniques but no clues, I realize it's just the way things worked out. It happened to all of us.
In terms of how to get Aikido back out ahead of the curve, I think there was to be a quick check made to see how many people in Aikikai, ASU, Yoshinkai, etc., are even interested, at this point. Secondly, I think this stuff needs to be publicly talked about (just as is being done) so that the whole idea of getting past the "face" issue is addressed.
Lastly, I think getting people like Ushiro, Akuzawa, etc., into arenas where you can pick their brains is paramount. Time is passing by... and these are interesting times.