Yes, in the recent winter school I saw at least one example of the consequences of the tight squeezing of the fist. However, as I stated earlier, I think there is a lot more to it than that.
I think that the problem with Stan's generalizations is that they are generalizations. He states:
QUOTE: "I think I can safely say that few of today’s leaders are focused on the philosophy and technique of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Their main concern is the solidification/expansion of the organization and its smooth operation."
The problem here is that Stan does not qualify the 'few' by giving any examples, so all today's leaders are tarred with the same brush. I should add that in prewar Japan, two of the most important 'leaders who were concerned with the solidification/expansion of their organizations and their smooth operations' were Morihei Ueshiba (the Kobukan) and his spiritual mentor Onisaburo Deguchi (the Omoto religion), but it is considered 'politically incorrect' to state this.
QUOTE: "My closing thought is this. Don't look to Japan or any organization for leadership in aikido or any other field of endeavor."
Again this is pretty absolute, so absolute that it is difficult to know how to take it--and it does not at all match with my own experience. The problem is that some sort of distinction needs to be made between the organization itself and those who operate through it. Otherwise we come to absurd conclusions. For example, who would attack Tamura Sensei and his aikido, because he chose to organize aikido in Europe in a certain way? Similarly with Sugano in Australia, Takeda, also in Australia, Chiba in the UK and Yamada in the US?
In any case, the issue that led to Stan's post and his recent (excellent) DVD on Koichi Tohei, does not concern organizations as such, so much as the individuals who led them. Which, in this case, centers on the personality clash, and consequences, between Koichi Tohei and Kisshomaru Ueshiba. Tohei, also, seemingly nullified his leadership credentials by forming an organization.
Finally, I remember my early encounters with Chiba Shihan in the UK. He was extraordinary (but was also largely responsible for many of the splits within the Aikikai in the UK) and I know that my own experiences precisely match those of the early students in Australia with Sugano Shihan. I myself had the benefit of long discussions / arguments with Chiba Sensei about how aikido could be furthered by organizations and I suspect that the policies of the Aikikai Australia precisely reflect the thoughts of Sugano Shihan about a correct teaching/learning relationship, as applied to organizations.
Its an interesting problem, and in Australia anyway it exists in more than a few organisations. Perhaps an (un)intended result is that the harder the fist is squeezed the more aikidoka run out through the fingers, and often its the talented rather than the mediocre doing so.
Stanley Pranin recently published an article on the Aikido Journal
touching on this topic (and a few raw nerves judging by at least one comment). Were it not from probably Aikido's most well known historian it might be labelled reactionary. Here are some quotes I hope not to out of context.
Still chewing on that one,
PS Peter, having enjoyed your writings online I was sorry not to have the opportunity to hear you speak and teach whilst you were recently downunder