Re: Poll: Would you consider aikido without a physical practice component to still be
Aikido is all about connection. Training is about realizing the essential connectedness of all human beings and beyond that, all elements in the universe. But one of the things that makes it Aikido is the we should be able to manifest that understanding in our bodies as well as on an emotional and intellectual level. It's fundamental goal is Body Mind Spirit unification.
Doran Sensei told me that he had once done some training for a group of fairly senior Zen practitioners. These were folks who had a fairly deep understanding of the true nature of things from their training. Doran Sensei said that it was really funny though, because when it came to their bodies, they made all the same mistakes that any beginner makes. Their training hadn't focused on what I would call "body centered" wisdom.
To be Aikido there has to be some physical practice that focuses on manifesting ones understanding through the body. I am not at all sure that O-Sensei actually cared about what form that took. He was always doing things like giving some master dance teacher rank in Aikido. I think for him it was the wholeness of understanding on the Body Mind Spirit that made it Aikido, not just some great insight, no matter how profound, that left the body out.
On the other hand, I think that O-Sensei would have looked at Systema as a form of Aikido that someone from another culture had come up with. It's purpose is precisely the same as Aikido, it is body centered practice, has a deep spiritual underpinning, and its focus is on Body Mind Spirit unification. I could easily envision O-Sensei whipping off a certificate of achievement in Aikido and giving it to Michael Ryabko if he had had a chance to see him.