Re: Aikido as External Art -or- Where's the Chewy Center?
Excellent post! I had been discussing this topic on other threads. I think that the problem with the transmission of Aikido has a lot to do with methodology of teaching. My guess is that in an effort to "preserve" what O'Sensei was teaching, people focused on teaching the techniques that they perceived that they were taught, as opposed to the principles that the represented. Your neighbor, George Ledyard is actively engaged in trying to re-think the methodology and teach the art in a manner in which a person can grasp the "internal" aspects of the art. My guess is that the people with Judo backgrounds "advanced" in the early stages of the art as they used their Judo skills to fill-in for their learning of the "internal" aspects of the art.
Your thesis on the separation of "external" and "internal" arts will take some serious deliberation. I do think that Aikido, at it's highest level, should be an "internal" art in that speed and strength are canceled out by the connection that exists with the attacker. I think that one of the truly hard aspects (which I am trying to figure out as I teach my students) is how to remain "soft", centered, and feeling the experience of what is occurring while being attacked in a strong/fast manner.
It is interesting what you point out about Angier Sensei's influence. I have recently begun training with one of this old students, James Williams, and seek out Ushiro Sensei whenever he is around, for similar reasons to the one's that you gave. I find that they are helping to provide me with a paradigm to understand the internal principles underlying Aikido, and consequently helping me tremendously in my own training. Speaking of which, I must go into NYC for my own personal training. Keep the threads of these critical ideas going. I believe that Aikido will emerge as a better taught art as a result.