Originally posted by Edward
I would like to add something quite important: Probably you wonder how come this generation of shihans is so gifted and powerful in aikido, and you wonder how come the younger generation of teachers does not show the same genius. The answer is that the formidable training these guys received under Osensei and others is no more acceptable nowadays and is called abusive, illegal, criminal...etc. Yes, I do think the new generation is wimpy, to use your words. Myself included, of course...
This went slightly OT but it seemed appropriate.
I can't think of a single sport where the athletes are not significantly better today than they were 20 or 30 years ago. In some cases the skill levels aren't even really close and you have college athletes who are better than what you had professionally or at the world class level 40 years ago.
Professional football players (the US kind) are one of the best examples. Athletes today are far, far better conditioned, they have far more information to learn from (multiple cameras, video, etc), have better drugs than their predecessors and the sport is much more complex than what it was for their predecessors. One of the significant changes in this sport is that training camp and practice is toned way down from what it used to be. Training camp is no longer the ordeal from hell and there are many people arguing that they should be shortened even more.
Training camp changed for a few reasons. First, you don't want your very highly paid athletes getting hurt on the practice field. Second, it's a long season and you need your athletes functional at the end of the season and too much training camp can burn them out. Third, they come into camp at a physical level that would have been unimaginable to athletes 30 years ago.
Why then have professional athletes advanced so rapidly? Certainly their training methods have significantly improved. In Aikido most of us are still operating almost exactly the way we did 40 years ago despite advances in training methods. Secondly, high level athletes, in the US at least, can make a profession of their sport or find a sponsor in the case of non-professionals.
Today, Aikidoists are lucky if they can make a few bucks off their school, if they have one, and I don't know of a single place in the Aikido world that provides a real solid climate for professional development. Some places have live in student programs but is there anyplace able to pay assistant instructors a living wage? Even $30,000/yr, which is barely a living wage in these parts, would be a big step up. The live in student gig only goes so far. Professional opportunities and development would do a world of good for advancing the skill levels because it would allow people to practice Aikido as a profession, which is what that first generation was able to do in a certain sense. It's certainly what has significantly changed the professional athlete.
Anyways, I don't think we've degenerated (I'm not certain how much we've advanced either) and if we have degenerated, in my opinion it's not our wimpy nature and refusal to accept injury which is hindering us.