Re: The Point of Aikido
I like to offer some slightly divergent thoughts....and perhaps it speaks to the problems enunciated by Ledyard sensei. I agree with Ledyard sensei as to the ultimate desirable outcome of training in aikido, but is that not the desired outcome of continued study of all martial arts. Anectdotal examaples....the recent "Human Weapon" series on History Channel has had several instances of sensei from other arts stating ultimate outcomes similar to what Ledyard sensei has stated. George's article itself uses Kano's judo as that example.
However, when Tohei came over to the US did he advertise aikido for its philosophical and self-improvement ideals? Perhaps he did, but surviving photos and antecdotes highlight the martial aspects.
There are articles that suggest that many of the now senior aikidoka that first came to the U.S. downplayed the spiritual aspects both during their training with O'Sensei and when they came to the US.
I suppose what this all leads toward is that our culture in the US and the natural desire to get inital converts as aikido spread in the US (and perhaps elsewhere) would seem to have conspired to emphasize for a generation or more the martial (fighting) aspects of aikido. I'd venture to say that other martial arts experienced the same "adulturation" when they came to the US. In karate and judo however, there is the additional outlet of sport that does not exist in aikido. So in another sense "we have met the enemy and he is us" is true as it applies to what is being discussed about the true purpose of aikido. Perhaps its the commercial culture we live in. Maybe Jun has (or could) run a poll something like "why did you first start aikdo? Self Defense? Self-Improvement? For a good workout? I don't do aikido. I've been in aikido long enough and am old enough to have seen a bunch of students come and go in our dojo, and none of them come in seeking self improvemnt....They come in because aikido is a Japanese martial art and they have preconceptions of being able to learn self-defense techniques, or at best they have been in another martial art, usually a striking art, and have gotten too old or just wanted another art. These students at least might have a clue as to what might result if they stay with it long enough. I'm sorry I was wrong....we did have one student who came in and liked the idea that aikido was totally defensive. This presented a problem because that student had trouble with anything that looked like irimi. But you see my point....externally the techniques are martial...and we have fed that aspect of it. Now if you stay with it long enough (or any martial art) you (hopefully) start integrating the deeper parts with the external techniques. I think we are a product of what we have done. How do you fix it? Do you fix it? I dunno. Perhaps more importantly, if aikido is forced to compete against other martial arts in our commercial culture, will it survive as is? My guess is some practitioners will "devolve" it back to something more like Daito Ryu and some will evolve it to something more like tai chi (yeah yeah I know tai chi can be martially effective)....Well these are just slightly less than random thoughts....any other suggestions?