Michael Fooks wrote:
Exactly. I think this is part of what I've been trying to get at. It's like we spend a bunch of time practicing scales but never get to improvise our jazz as it were. And I find myself in the unusual position of disagreeing with Kevin L. We spend so much time in formal classes I think saying "it's up to you to go and take that stuff and integrated it" is not acceptable. I think Kevin W as hit on it - there should be more "unstructured" time in classes to allow for more open practice.
I think it probably seems more sensible to KL because he does this for a living, and his his own training facilities. Most of us don't have our own mats or space, or an auxilliary martial arts club in which to do our own 'jazz'. Even if we had an option to get into something like that, would we have the time, the money to pay dues to two clubs, etc...?
Ideally, to my preference, I think the kind of training we are describing should become a regular, integral part of things after one has been training a few years. Perhaps what we are describing is introducing free-play and 'realism' training into the Aikido curriculum in the same way that other arts have competition or sparring. I wonder if we are talking about spawning a whole new art. Like many have said, globalization, the internet, and the rise of MMA competition fighting have really changed the way we perceive martial arts. Maybe it is time for Aikido to change or for it to shrink and something else that is related, which has prominent Aikido elements as well as current 'aliveness' elements in it to grow.