Re: The purpose of Aikido?
I do recognize that not all school and styles of Aikido are lacking in martial intent and effectiveness. I was under the Aikikai but I have visited a Yoshinkan dojo and I was impressed by how that particular school trained. I'm sure there are others here on Aikiweb and all over the world that do practice with martial intent and that's fantastic. I wish more schools are like this.
My point is that these schools are more of the exception than the rule. I'll go on a limb and say that Aikido in general has become lightly regarded because the schools that do aikido more as a martial art are the minority in the aikido universe. Which also why everyone who describes their aikido school will often state that their school practices with fast attacks and some resistance, as if to differentiate themselves from the result of the aikido schools. This knee jerk reaction and statement says a lot, IMHO.
Aikido as a martial artist has something to offer the martial artist out to learn new skills to add to his self-defense toolbox. I wouldn't be taking time to post my opinion here if I thought aikido was completely useless. It's precisely because I see the creeping decline of aikido into a form of new age yoga that I wish aikido could go back to its historical martial roots.
ChrisHein, I agree with your point of resistance. The strategy of aikido is sound. So is the technical syllabus. It's the methodology that needs to be reconsidered. Correctly done and productive resistance is precisely what aikido needs. But a lot of people don't understand that kind of resistance is needed, but that's another topic altogether. The lack of resistance is so common in aikido that IMHO its symptomatic of what I consider a decline throughout aikikai aikido. I don't think that by asking for resistance I'm breaking a cardinal rule or doctrine of Aikido.
I think that aikido needs is to stop declaring itself as being "too deadly to be practiced with resistance" and instead get real and think about how it's being trained. I do think resistance in aikido can be done but it needs to start with not just the schools that are more "martial savvy" but most aikido schools in general. Right now I'm not seeing it happening any time soon.
The aikidoka I see nowadays are content to just do what I call "clock-punching" aikido practice, which is just to rack up training sessions to comply with exam requirements. They do practice the techniques to allow them to perform it better for exams, but based on what I see hardly anyone has ever asked questions like "what if he tries to ___________, what do I do next". I'm not talking about kyu grade students, but yudansha.
For example, I used to have a training tanto in my bag all the time. My sensei used to have us to a lot of tanto dori practice, and we explored the "what ifs", like having uke withdraw the knife if nage couldn't get hold of the knife or attacking arm or if nage was in a bad position for a follow up strike by uke. The attacks weren't as fancy as maybe a kali student would pull off but at least we tried. Just the other day I was invited to an after-practice party at the dojo of a sensei I know and I was surprised to find out that none of the students has a tanto or does tanto dori training expected that their level. They do tanto dori training, but only for a few months and only for those going for nidan. The rest of the time they just do "clock punching" practice. And to make matters worse, the school is in a rather nasty part of town.
I do think that the method of promotion in aikikai aikido is partly to blame for the problem and the narcissists that infest its yudansha ranks.
What's needed to advance in the aikikai ranking hierarchy is through time spent training and demonstration of skill (until yodan anyway). No ego-endangering competition at all. The pressure is solely on not screwing up in front of your peers. But aside from this, the exam is tiring but relatively easy. You get an uke who you're familiar with (and probably trained for the exam with), and if you practiced enough to do the material required (jo dori, tanto dori, etc. ) without looking too bad, you'll pass the exam.
I know that that is an insulting oversimplification of the yudansha advancement process but you have to admit that its fairly accurate.
The training time requires is actually the easy part. Anyone doing martial arts seriously knows that studying any style will require constant and regular training. But the lack of competition and the lack of any method of pressure-testing the examinee IMHO allows for patient people with massive egos to rise in the ranks to dominate the upper levels. Thus we have people who think too highly of themselves and their skills running schools and organizations. In a system with competition, the high ranking practitioners have had their egos beaten and their technique tested. Not so in aikikai aikido. The style does not allow competitions and the lack of martial intent in training are IMHO the cause of various problems.
Like I said, if aikido in general does not live up to its own declared martial potential and it fails as a path of spiritual enlightenment and character development (based on the leading teachers I've seen), then what is aikido curently for?
I'm sorry if I'm being too blunt but this is just my opinion.