Re: Poll: How strong of a connection do you personally feel to Morihei Ueshiba?
In my opinion, one of the problems with Aikido as it is evolving is the loss of connection with it's Founder. People have only the sketchiest knowledge of what he was about. Aikikai Headquarters is not inclined to change that.
My own training under Saotome Sensei was quite different... O-Sensei was a daily part of my practice in that Saotome Sensei talked of him constantly. The lessons which O-Sensei personally provided my teacher were passed on to us, often in stories recounted after class over a beer or two. O-Sensei wasn't some remote figure, he is literally my Aikido Grandfather.
I had many years of training with Mary Heiny Sensei as well. O-Sensei's spirit as passed to her by Hikitsuchi Sensei was a daily part of our training. His memory was alive in the dojo. The connection has been kept vibrant by Hikitsuchi Sensei's student Anno Sensei with whom Mary and her top students have had a strong relationship.
I personally have little or no interest in an Aikido in which O-Sensei's dreams for the art play no important part. Saotome Sensei has been adamant, since day one, that we are part of a transmission from O-Sensei to him and from him to his deshi, of which I am one. For me, the art without that connection would be just another style of jiu jutsu and the most interesting one at that.