Re: Evaluation of "Spirit of Aikido"
I prepared a comment similar to that made by George L, but decided not to post it (as I often do). I plan to disuss the issues you raised quite extensively in the columns I am writing. A few random comments:
You should also look at Aikido Shintei, a large-format, lavishly illustrated book published in 1986. An English translation appeared in 2004, entitled The Art of Aikido. Unfortunately, the illustrations are monochrome, probably for reasons of cost, but the book presents a clearer picture of Kisshomaru Ueshiba's ideas about postwar aikido than Aikido no Kokoro. The English translation of this earlier book presents a very superficial picture of overseas aikido. I mean by this that the mindset, for want of a better word, of non-Japanese who train very seriously in a martial art like aikido, is rarely understood by Japanese.
I note that the three persons mentioned by George in his post all became 'independent' to varying degrees. One person who did not, and who started almost from the very beginning, was Rinjiro Shirata. There are issues here that I am trying to explain in my columns. Shirata decided to support the Aikikai and so he accepted the iemoto system for what it was. In other words, he decided against independence and so, for example, his technical explorations of aikido have never been published.
The 'invention of tradition' (E J Hobsbawm) is a major issue in aikido, especially as this is understood by non-Japanese. Thus, we believe that the suppression or distortion of what we see as the truth is unethical. I have often been struck that Kisshomaru Ueshiba (and I have occasionally talked to him about this) did not see things in this way.