The questions we have to ask ourselves is "are we really as open minded to do the same as well?" AND "do we understand our own criteria for evaluating our training objectives?"
I agree with him on many levels. We probably agree more than we disagree, but I think he still has a deep level of conviction that aikido (and all TMA) is just repetition of patterns that conditions one to be unable to move or respond outside those patterns, and that is simply ignorant. I've seen that attitude so much in JKD circles and of course all that is a form of worship of a guy whose training methods killed him at an early age. And who, by the way, did not ever do very much real fighting with highly experienced martial artist--mostly street fights among punks, the notable exception being Man Jack Wong, who was expert in several "traditional" martial arts and who is still alive and doing tai chi and bagua today, all these decades after Bruce supposedly "destroyed" him.
But again, I do agree that liveness is an absolute necessity in training for survival.
I just disagree with Thorton's assessments of aikido and of kata.
That whole crowd really also fails to realize that kata were created by and for people who seldom had anything but severe and deadly experience that was always "life or death" rather than "alive training."
There's only so much of that all-out bloody "research" you can do before you simply die from an accumulation of serious injuries.
And how do two seriously-blooded fighters share information on deadly techniques without killing one another in the process? Kata were made by seriously deadly men to let them share information with other seriously deadly men. It's not the fault of kata that modern people generally lack that whole level of experience. It's we who need more "alive" experience before we can really understand the meaning contained in the kata.
I don't consider kata to be "ritualized combat," as Ignatius suggests, but as a way for a deadly person to show you what he considers the most important techniques and, more important, the principles behind those techniques.
I suppose if the most advanced kata you ever saw was from some homemade 10th dan who makes up a new "dance of death" every weekend, you would think there's not much content to it. But like aikido, you have to judge it by the best available instead of whatever scattered trash you find blowing against your shoes on the street.
It just never fails to impress me with irony when people supposedly dedicated to open-minded exploration for the truth can reject so much that has been proven through centuries without really giving it much of a look.