George S. Ledyard
I think that there are many reasons people choose to do martial arts but perhaps the predominant one is fear of some sort.
I agree. Mine was fear of myself and my anger.
George S. Ledyard
Some form of martial skill is a by product of good Aikido training. But the entire structure of the art is about something different. It doesn't even reflect that concern. Attempts to get it back to some more effective past by changing the essential structure of the way we train will destroy Aikido. The people who propose that we do so simply do not understand what or why we do what we do. I would say that they probably do not have the temperament to even want to do what we do and look at us as folks doing something incomprehensible. To them the question is "Why would anyone want to do that?" To the folks who do understand, the question is "How do we do what we do better." These are not the same at all.
This is a 'sticky wicket'. I don't happen to believe that because the structure and goal of our training isn't about martial effectiveness means that we can eliminate martial effectiveness from our training and say we can achieve our separate goals without it.
I don't believe that the internal problems I learn to solve are very relevant if my buttons aren't being pushed and the somewhat arbitrary external standard of 'martial effectiveness ' is one that certainly pushes buttons and exposes personal fears.
If I allow my practice on the mat to become less specific because it makes me or my partners uncomfortable, I am no longer directly facing the issues of "Masakatsu Agatsu". Indeed, I am altering my practice to make it easier and more enjoyable simply because "it isn't my goal to become martially effective" and this change in mental discipline subtly changes the entire meme of my training.
I guess this is fine if you're honest with yourself and your training partners. Don't pretend you practice budo, and don't suggest that self-defense or martial skill will result. Then, at least, the shock one experiences if they are ever tested on the street will be lessened and/or potentially more pleasant if the encounter is successful.
Of course, "on the street" is a nearly meaningless measure anyway and also leads one in a direction I have little interest in. I have seldom been attacked as an adult, even as a bouncer and it's my personal observation that almost everyone I know who has been in frequent altercations really went looking for them.
IMO, martial effectiveness is not the goal, but it is an absolute consequence of my training if my training is correct. It is one standard (among many) that I use to measure my progression.
I do not want cooperative uke's except in the sense that they are helping me to polish myself (nor do I want resistant uke's). Almost all aikido training uses very cooperative uke's and the result is an increase in suki in the techniques as practiced without an awareness of those suki. How does that not impact the integrity of what we study?
If I have to change the essential structure of how we train to achieve that, I will willingly do so. If my partners in aikido find what I'm doing too real, then I will find different partners and we can pleasantly part ways.
I would suggest, however, that it is not the reality of the training that is the sole issue, but the sense of vulnerability that is raises in us. I have one training partner who, deliberately or otherwise, has entirely stopped training with me after the following encounter.
The irony is that the only person who was hurt in that encounter was me, and yet I was never the person in a truly vulnerable position. Now, I'm not suggesting injury should EVER result, I was pushing boundaries that I perhaps should not, however, if one does not feel as vulnerable in their training as he felt at the end, than one is not pushing their boundaries or practicing in a way that I would call juicy or interesting.
I do understand why many of my training partners and acquaintances train the way they do and I would even say that their goals are similar, but I believe that they wish to make their path easier and that they believe that it's ok to do so because "we're all on the same path" or "we're all climbing the same mountain". I don't believe that. I believe that some of us are climbing different mountains, or perhaps are even on different planets (views being so far apart).
That's ok.. everyone should train the way they want to and that is what I intend to continue doing. If it destroys aikido, then aikido had nothing worth saving. Somehow, though, I doubt aikido is in danger from the way I practice and share my practice. In fact, I suggest the opposite.