It's an interesting thing, history. It tells a lot while telling nothing at all.
So, while perusing Aikido Journal, I read Stan's wonderful account of Ueshiba and aikido.
Stan Pranin wrote:
I think it is due primarily to the fact that very few of O-Sensei's students trained under him for any protracted length of time. With the exception of Yoichiro (Hoken) Inoue, a nephew of Ueshiba, Gozo Shioda, the founder of Yoshinkan Aikido, and Tsutomu Yukawa, O-Sensei's prewar uchideshi studied a maximum of perhaps five to six years. Certainly this was enough time to become proficient in the art, but not enough to master the vast technical repertoire of aiki budo with its many subtleties. Most of these vigorous young men who enrolled as uchideshi were forced to prematurely end their martial arts training to enter military service. Furthermore, only a handful of these early deshi resumed their practice after the war.
That's interesting. Five to six years.
But, wait, there's more:
Stan Pranin wrote:
The same can be said of the postwar period. The initiates of that period include such well-known figures as Sadateru Arikawa, Hiroshi Tada, Seigo Yamaguchi, Shoji Nishio, Nobuyoshi Tamura, Yasuo Kobayashi, and later Yoshimitsu Yamada, Mitsunari Kanai, Kazuo Chiba, Seiichi Sugano, Mitsugi Saotome and various others. Shigenobu Okumura, Koichi Tohei, and Kisaburo Osawa form a somewhat unique group in that they practiced only briefly before the war, but achieved master status after World War II. None of these teachers spent any lengthy period studying directly under O- Sensei.
And then we tie some of it up with:
Stan Pranin wrote:
It means further that O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba was not seriously involved in the instruction or administration of aikido in the postwar years.
Now, let's take a look at two of the greats in Aikido: Shioda and Tomiki.
Shioda -- according to the wiki (yeah, if it's right), Shioda trained on and off for ten years with Ueshiba.
Tomiki -- 1926 started. By 1940, 8th dan. 14 years. And that period of time was on and off training, too.
And what I think is really appropriate is that, by far, most of the greats in Aikido trained under Ueshiba learning ... Daito ryu.
How long? Well, it seems that with the right training methods, the greats only took 10-15 years.
In What Manner? Why, they studied Daito ryu, of course.
It doesn't take genius to realize that there was a definite training method that Takeda passed down to learning aiki. It was, after all, Deguchi who suggested Takeda change the art's name to Daito ryu aikijujutsu. An outsider that understood aiki to be the heart of Takeda's art. Interesting. And Ueshiba later adopted aikido as a name for his art. Commonalities?
And it doesn't take a genius to see that Ueshiba was still working on the Daito ryu aiki while teaching to pre-war students. (Whether he actually taught it is another matter.)
How, then, does one analyze current aikido training in regards to length of time and ability? If you've studied for 10-15 years, are you nearing the abilities of Tomiki, Shioda, etc? If not, why?
There are training methods that work better than others. And the amount of time put into training methods matters. But, considering that quite a lot of the greats had solo training methods, where are they in current aikido training? For example, it seems that shiko was a method used by many greats in Daito ryu. Where did it go in Aikido? Has anyone ever asked Tomiki, Shioda, etc about their solo training? Using shiko? What exactly were they doing?
Again, how long? Certainly under 20 years to be very good.
In what manner? The very essence of Daito ryu that made it to Aikido but was not passed through to current training methodologies. Forget the "ai-ki" of spiritual joining of harmonious love. Look to the "aiki" that Ueshiba knew from Daito ryu. Ueshiba was Daito ryu to the core. It was on top of that, that he overlayed his spiritual insight and outlook.