Originally posted by Chris Li
On the hand, some traditional names (such as Daito-ryu) have actually been trademarked in Japan, opening the door for legal recourse.
Also, I'm not entirely sure that M. Ueshiba was the first to use "Aikido" as the name for his art, I've heard similar claims from practitioners of other arts. Certainly many other people have used the word "Aikido", which would strengthen the argument that the term has become generic.
Last time I looked Tohei was still using "Aikido"...
Was Kenji Tomiki of less "outstanding morality" because he used the name Aikido even when asked not to by M. Ueshiba?
Interesting topic. I can quite see Edward's viewpoint and a very similar viewpoint has been expounded to me by the late Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba and also by the present Doshu. The Aikikai really do believe that aikido is in a very real sense the property of the Ueshiba family and this explains (to me at least) how the Aikikai conducts itself, especially in relation to other organisations using the name.
On the other hand, the term 'aikido', as used to describe the gendai budo created by Morihei Ueshiba, was first coined by officials of the Dai Nippon Butotukai around 1942. Up to that point Ueshiba had been following Japanese precedent and calliing his art Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, Ueshiba-ryu, or Aiki-budo. The Dai Nippon Butotukai had the strong support of the Japanese military government and was grouping together all the martial arts in order to coordinate the war effort. I do not think there was any question of not participating (for Ueshiba had close links to the military and was teaching at many military schools); the question concerned the name. Aiki-budo seemed too narrow; any association with jujutsu was not acceptable, since there was already an existing art with that name; in any case it was better for the art to be a 'do', like judo. Thus, 'aikido' was the name finally agreed on. Obviously, this decision must have been made with Morihei Ueshiba's approval, but it needs to be seen in a certain political context.
Now Ueshiba moved to Iwama in 1942 and if 'Aikido Ichiro' is any guide, the reason was to preserve the art he had created (which he called 'aikido'), since he appears to have been very pessimistic about tho outcome of the war. He ordered Kisshomaru to run the Tokyo dojo as best he could, which he did.
The point is that aikido is a generic name, like judo, even though it is also the name of the Ueshiba family art. I doubt very much whether there was any thought of trade-marking the name, just as Kano never trade-marked judo. Probably because the 'iemoto' system is a system of human relationships and is traditionally not thought to need modern legal underpinnings.
With 'Kobukai' and 'Aikikai', the matter is somewhat different. Thus when Gozo Shioda established his own organisation he used a different name (Yoshinkan/kai) and Kenji Tomiki also eventually followed the same pattern. But both continued to use the name 'aikido'. Tomiki Sensei was asked to change the name, but he declined and there was no way that the Aikikai could legally compel him to do so.
In my own case, I started training without worrying about either the name or the history of the art and this state of innocence lasted till I became a yudansha (i.e., structurally attached to a sensei via an organisation). I had lots of teachers, not all of whom were Aikikai, but all of whom could trace their pedigree back to the Founder. For me, this line is important. Of course, a trademark is usually a sign of quality: customers can rely on the brand. In aikido, the search for quality is really much more up to the individual practitioner, whether inside an organisation or outside one. A link with the source indicates the possibility of high quality, but the search is still up to the individual practitioner.