I think you might want to peruse the poll dated on 4-29 before you state that Self-defense is the main reason why people train in aikido. I will also direct you to read Donn Draeger's triology (modern Budo, Classical Budo, Classical Bujutsu) to understnad that the main goals of most modern Budo's (aikido inclusive) is the refinement of the character, self-perfection. Self-defense practicality against shotguns and pistols was probably quite low on the list. Shodan means beginning step, this does not make them an expert in any way whatsoever. Especially at a "very competent level". We can't possilby train for every possible contingency that could occur. Nor would I want someone thinking they could handle themselves with a pistol toting assailant after spending a few classes doing pistol disarms(I am using this as an example) If you think an aikidoka even at nidan/sandan level could take a sword away from a equally ranked swordsman you are delusional. O'sensei did not want a bralwer win at all costs attitude, in fact he was particular moved about how paranoid and shaken Takeda was about his numerous victories and the spiritual loss he had suffered accordingly. [/b][/quote]
I'm talking modern times here. The reason most people walk into a dojo of any kind is to learn that particular form of self defense. Most do not enter with the though of "spiritual enlightenment" on their minds. Not to say their training doesn't spill over into this area with study, but that is RARELY the reason they enter the dojo, be it aikido, karate or jujitsu.
Shodan means "The beginning" only in the technical sense of the word. I'm sorry if you disagree with me, but at shodan you should be very competent in aikido and should be more than capable of handling yourself against the majority of attackers you might encounter. I certainly know this is not the case with many shodan out there, but it is my feeling that it is how it should be. O'sensei ment for aikido to be first and foremost a very practical and effective means of self defense that also would lead one to a higher understanding of themselves and humanity, as study progressed. I also think that O'sensei would be very disappointed to know that the art that was so very effective for him and so very effective for his early students has been diluted to the point that many consider it a dance, a spritual-only art or something that one can only practically use for self defense once they have spent 20 years studying it. This is not the aikido O'sensei taught and it is not the Aikido I have been taught.
I also have no doubt that self defense against guns was very low on the list indeed. FOrtunatly for us, this is not the only time self defense is needed these days. I never hinted at anything involving guns. You compare apples to oranges though. Compare two modern day students of aikido and kenjitsu. Both with similar study habits and teachers. Yes, I totally feel that an aikidoka would (or I'll say should)stand on even ground with the swordsman in terms of ability. 50 years ago, would one of O'sensei's students fair as well, yes. I know Tohei sensei for one would be more than capable. But compare a swordsman from 50 years ago with an aikidoka of today, no, I seriously doubt the aikidoka would fair well at all. It's a total difference in training mentality and method.
I think you selectively misread what I wrote. I was replying to the original message in this thread. I feel, as he does, that a shodan should take it upon themselves to make sure have strong aikido. Because at this point you are expected to be a reference point for newer aikidoka. If you do not know strong, effective aikido, you can not pass on strong, effective aikido. Sorry if you took offense to my post.