Thanks for the replies thus far! I neglected to note in my original post that I fully acknowledge the difference between cross-training & the MMA, which, on the surface, appear identical. However, they're two completely separate pursuits. Many of the greatest martial artists (including O'Sensei) cross-trained, and it's a surefire method by which to test your skills as well as to broaden & perfect them. The difference: a MMA is, quite literally, "a jack of all trades and master of none." His intent to is to take only what is beneficial for competition. A cross-trainer seeks to broaden their technical repitoire as well as, hopefully, pursue the essence of Budo. Sound familiar? It should. That's what drove O'Sensei and that's how Aikido was born!
I myself cross-train. However, my primary or "base" art is Aikido, the lens through which I view the martial arts in general and the standard by which I evaluate a technique, system or methodology.
It is my opinion that the MMA "fad" can, in the end, only strengthen Aikido by challenging a sincere Aikidoka to ask: "is this technique effective in today's world?", or "would this work in against so-and-so and such-and-such attack." Not that we should succumb to the polar opposite of the competitive MMA: the Hybrid Martial Arts, AKA "reality-based" self-defense or "self-protection" or Close Quarters Combat (CQC) that advocates the largely amoral use of force through an eclectic system that draws from numerous styles/schools that equally eschews etiquette, tradition & moralism in favor of "combat" skills.
I hate to sound corny, but shouldn't "Aikido" just stay true to itself (whatever that is)?
Does it need to "attract"?
Especially those "blinded by hype"?
Another St. Louis Aikidoka! Sorry I missed the seminar you folks hosted a few weeks ago. Really wanted to go. I'm currently studying with Harnack Sensei at Aikido Institute of Mid-America.
Aikido, like any budo, has an omote and an ura. There's been a lot of valuable philosophical exploration of the ura. However, if we lose the omote, the whole thing disintegrates. You can't have one or the other. I'm not sure you can even really -emphasize- one or the other.
I think MMA -is- a wakeup call. Not a challenger "we" need to fight and defeat - frankly, not only would that be wrongheaded, but furthermore "they" would win. But I think that hiding in a cave muttering that "we do REAL fighting, not that sport stuff!" is senseless. What IS aikido's intended context? And whatever it is, shouldn't it translate at least somewhat into MMA-style situations?
It seems like most great aikidoka, past and present, have also been skilled in other martial arts. Coincidence?
Indeed it is a "wake up call!"