George S. Ledyard
This is why I "care" so much about this... You can see right on the forum that folks have a desire to do good Aikido... they don't want to be told that what they are doing isn't enough, they will ignore all evidence to the contrary, in order to tell themselves that what they can put in will be enough. If the majority of folks in the art are telling themselves this story, pretty soon there is a collective belief that it's true. Eventually, in order to make that view square with reality, the definition of "enough" will be changed. What used to be a mediocre Shodan would now be be an acceptable San Dan..
This exert is exactly why I'm feeling a bit passionate over the issue. There just comes a point where people stop realizing what quality Aikido it.
I've been a student of classical music most of my life. As in any fine art, the answer to "what is enough" is, its never enough. The work never ends. The route to genius is obsession with any fine art.
I'm driven mad by the argument that 3 hours a week is considered outrageous to a practicing Aikidoka. I don't think there is something wrong with training twice, once a week, or even once a month, so long as you call a spade a spade.
Some one who trains once a week might be a great person, great mother, great employee...but great student of Aikido? Like I said I did classical music the better part of my life, with a commitment of once or twice a week I'd be considered a VERY BAD student! A recreational musician at best.
In music we do not call the guy that plays the recorder(even honestly with joy)a few times a week a student of music...we call the man that practices daily in the apprenticeship of his better a student of music.
Why is people's self worth so wrapped into Aikido, to the point of anger, when they only devote an hour or two to it a week? They haven't devoted enough of their time to even begin to become defensive. IMO It just simply doesn't mean what it means to the people who do reroute their lives, jobs, and home-lives to devote to the study of this art.
I accept the argument of "I'm injured" or "i have a family tragedy" when some one trains too little. But there are some arguments I find to be excuses. They are inconvenienced by long drives, or having to wake up early, or having to eat a late dinner, or rearrange their social/family routines. My biggest pet peeve in life is people who do not take personal responsibility for where they are in any area of life. People can do anything with enough work and devotion IMO.
A hobbyist who appreciates the art can devote 1 or 2 hours a week or less. But at the point where you are claiming to be a devoted student of Aikido, to perform at such a low level is intellectual dishonesty. IMO You can be a good hobbyist with 2 hours a week on average. But you are a bad student IMO with 2 or less hours a week on average.
I don't respect the delusion that we can be great Aikidoka with such a casual commitment. That might offend some, but I think they are dishonest with what Aikido is in their lives. Nothing wrong with the honest casual practitioner. I just hate to see the casual practitioner argue that what they do is enough to be considered disciplined students.
In the end it is my belief that Aikido, like all fine art, is an apprentice program. You have to find the highest skilled Aikidoka you can, whenever you can, and train at the highest level you can(health permitting), whenever you can...like any other discipline. only the quality of Aikido suffers when the casual hobbyist starts calling themselves Martial Artists.
This is what my teachers, Shidoin and Shihan have taught me about what is expected from a student in order to practice quality art with a heart receptive to instruction.