George S. Ledyard
Exactly, I had something in mind... it came out differently in the end and I didn't go back and adjust my intro. Duh...
I have found the lack of concern about martial effectiveness I have seen creep in to Aikido to be disturbing. I really do not think that "application" is the central issue at all. But I do think that the martial paradigm is important because it is the way you get immediate feedback about your level of understanding. I can't see how one develops the attitude of "shin ken shobu" without putting some attention on the martial aspect. Although I do believe that the point of Aikido is basically trans-formative, it was always said by the Founder to be a Budo. I really think it either loses its power to transform or the transformation is of a quite different nature when you lose the martial aspect.
Have you seen the two recent movies made by Clint Eastwood on the Battle of Iwojima? One depicts the American side and the other depicts the Japanese side. I have used the second in one of my classes and have studied the reactions of the 120 Japanese students who took my class (two of whom are ardent members of the local Ki Aikido club).
Apart from these two (who have been heavily brainwashed on the importance of KI over any kind of effectiveness), my students have virtually no concept of the value of fighting to defend principles and have even less clue of the value of martial arts, which they equate with prewar militarism that is no longer relevant to them.
The English version of the Aikikai website has this entry under ‘Organization'. (I should add that the content of the same heading of the Japanese-language section of the website is quite different.)
Aikido is a new Japanese martial art created during the 1920s by Morihei Ueshiba, an expert who reached the highest level of mastery in the classical Japanese martial arts. Officially recognized by the Japanese government in 1940, the Aikikai Foundation (Aikido World Headquarters) is the parent organization for the development and popularization of Aikido throughout the world. Under the leadership of Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu, instructors are teaching Aikido according to the ideals of the Founder (Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei) to students in Japan and throughout the world.
Since contemporary values stress respect for human life, Aikido is a highly relevant form of the Japanese martial arts. Aikido is popular not just in Japan but throughout the world because people accept and agree with the underlying philosophy of Aikido. Instructors from the Aikido World Headquarters are dispatched to countries throughout North and South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Transcending boundaries of race and nationality, Aikido is practiced and loved by over 1.2 million people in more than fifty countries around the world.
As travel, work, and study abroad have now become commonplace, Aikido is spreading internationally because it can be viewed as a "product of a shared cultural heritage," culture not bound to any one nation or people-a legacy which can contribute to peace and prosperity. Seen as such, expectations for Aikido's role in the coming century are great.
It is very difficult for me to make public comments about this website because my own name appears in the Japanese version. However, I am struck by the awkward combination of (1) a ‘shared cultural heritage' and (2) the ‘dispatch of Hombu instructors throughout the world'. There are no non-Japanese instructors in the Hombu and there is no mention of the work of the non-Hombu instructors around the world. I know myself that there is no thought of what a "culture not bound to any one nation or people" actually entails. All the research I have encountered points in the opposite direction—to culture espousing a set of values that can be expressed in national(ist) terms, which is eminently true of Japan. All my Japanese graduate students regard culture in its deepest sense as essentially bound up with the concept of nation and nationhood.
Whereas Kisshomaru Doshu wanted to spread aikido around the world as 'good' Japanese culture and always regarded aikido as quintessentially Japanese (see the last part of my column), as did Morihei Ueshiba, the author of the English statement above has fudged the issue and suggested that aikido is no longer fully Japanese. What he means is that the 'shared cultural heritage' is shared because people all over the world practice a Japanese martial art.