The emphasis in Aikido has been on making the practice more accessible to the public so that a wider range of people can benefit from doing the training and take the accrued benefits into their lives outside the dojo. This has meant that various standards have been applied to evaluate the training aside from pure "effectiveness".
But rather than change themselves to fit the art, people want to change the art to fit themselves...This is why the discussion of what Aikido is supposed to be is so important. Your training will determine what you become. If you do not structure your training to arrive at the goal you want, you won't get there. So we all have to decide what kind of Aikido we want to be doing because it determines what kind of people we wish to become...
I believe the first statement is entirely true.. I also believe that we have successfully expanded the art, which is good. But at some point, aikido will be forced to decide what level of instruction in the curriculum is acceptible for the degredation in fighting viability. For example, if we water down our curriculum enough maybe we can just give our black belts for trying real hard (wait...OMG...
I think a discussion of this magnitude is necessary because we need to understand the consequences for those decisions we believe "help" aikido. I think Michael Jordan said, "it takes a lifetime to climb to the top; it takes an instant to fall from it." We need to be careful in what standards we choose to lower, what curriculum we choose to omit, what training we choose to avoid.
I am gonna some like Rush with some fear-mongering here for a minute...
Once we remove something from the curriculum (or lower the standards of the curriculum), it won't be back anytime soon...if ever. That scares the hell outta me. When the effectiveness of aikido dries up, so will the [small] remainder of competent martial artists in aikido. Without intellectual and competent leaders to improve and refine the system, who will become our shihan?
David Lowery says in "In the Dojo
," that there is a magic percentage of hobbyists to serious practicioners - I think he says something like the 90% of hobbyists pay for the 10% of serious students to train. We have to make sure we balance our curriculum to maximize potential students while retaining those serious about training. This is a rule of marketing - quantity or quality, right?