Ian Upstone wrote:
I believe Shioda was a sandan in judo when he met Ueshiba. He may have been young, but I would say that would be more than 'a little bit' of experience.
Yes, perhaps, but he was still quite young and he said himself that judo probably hindered the effectiveness of his aikido. He compared Yonekawa and Yukawa. One was beaten because he would resort to his old judo reflexes. The other "won" with a shihonage since he (according to Shioda) had only been training for Ueshiba and infact "...had only been training shihonage...".
With regard to the hard and soft aspect of practice, I think it's important as to what aspect is practiced in these ways, rather than a blanket 'soft' or 'hard' dichotomy. There's nothing wrong with rigorous training and I think that people people need to use strength initially when learning anyway - even if only to learn that they don't need it for practice. The only thing I'm not a fan of, is folk claiming what they are doing is hard, just because they are smashing a compliant uke into the mat.
I would go so far as to say that most people today trains 2-3 times a week. As uchideshi you train constantly! That's the major different. Not "hard" or "soft".
I honestly think that unless you put your 12-16 hours or more per week at least the first years, the chance that you will be an "effective" aikidoka is quite small. Note, there are exceptions...