No offense but that's just silly.
The ten best fighters in the world will have MMA backgrounds (formal or not) you can bet on that. They will also spend their entire careers fighting, many on a daily basis, and training to fight.
I think Stan's post was maybe too simplistic and provocative, but his point seems a legitimate one for consideration. Actually (and Stan can chime in here and correct me otherwise), he seems to have two points:
The first seemed to be that, without these baseline internal skills, can you even really consider aikido a martial
art? Physical art of minor conflict resolution? Path of daily practice to integrate oneself physically? Great opportunity to get out of the house and meet nice people? Why not, to all of those. All healthy reasons to pursue any path of self-development
But (and I'm reading the spirit of his post here, rather than the letter) what happens when an aikidoka has to mix it up with someone who is trained in another fighting art. You mention MMA, but - and all protests of, "Aikido is not about fighting!" aside - what if (since we're playing that game...and really, isn't martial training of any kind just a physical game of what if? If there isn't that possibility of physical conflict, is it a martial
art?) your average aikidoka of ten years training finds themselves with no other option but to defend themselves against someone with ten years training in another art. A single art, mind you. But one that trains aggressively, and with active resistance, from day one of training.
Consider a hellbent boxer, or grappler of any kind. A kyokushinkai student, or someone doing traditional Uechi or Goju Ryu. For the cherry on top, let's all shudder to think of a well-trained Muay Thai fighter. All of these are fighters who are used to getting hit, and striking and attacking while moving against their opponent - and under conditions of adrenalized stress.
Seriously consider that. No need to pit seasoned MMA'ers against aged shihan here, either.
Stan's second point (implied, I believe. Stan, you crafty, subtle devil) is actually encouraging, and supports what Dan and Mike (those crafty, unsubtle devils...all too busy pissing in pools, and ruining dreams of martial greatness) have been arguing. Add in internal bodywork for your average aikidoka, starting from day one, and then put them against students of another style. That would not only level the playing field, but for those aikidoka who train with active resistance against their partners, would possibly tip the scales against "external" stylists.
(btw, I don't think those styles I pitted our hapless and average ten year aikidoka against are necessarily "external." Nor do I believe that "aiki" is just in aikido, or that all y'all own it. It's just what you call it).
I know I'm preaching to the converted, Mark, about the need for these internal skills (no matter what the art), but I don't think Stan's provocation was as simplistic or naive as it seems to have been perceived. To me, it really just seemed to demand, "What's your idea of martial?" Again, if someone is not pursuing aikido to martial ends, I still consider it a deeply worthy path. But, personally, I think those aikidoka that do train with the idea that it is a martial art should be training to fight. Every day, just like folks in those other arts. And more like folks in those other arts...all the while keeping it aikido (*cough*