Hi folks, remember me?
I'll do my best to stay on topic, but since this thread has wandered far and back again, I'm afraid I'll be wandering a bit. This will also be more of an "op-ed" type post and less of investigative journalism. I'm expressing my own opinions, not arguing before a jury.
Topic One: Training two days a week.
I agree with George on this one. Training two days a week is enough to get your interest peaked, or to *barely* maintain what you have learned *if you really put in the work beforehand*. It is not enough to reach what I would call "competence in aiki". That's my way of sidestepping the issue of rank, since that's it's own separate issue. I think three very active days a week is the minimum to actually make progress in the art. If you're only going to be able to get to the dojo three days a week, you will need to be doing work on your own. Now that supposes that you are being offered something useful to do on your own time and given a paradigm to self check (I'm going to leave that can of worms closed for now).
I am also reminded of something Andy Dale said a while back (paraphrasing), "Train as hard and as often as you can when you are young because you will need to lean on that training when you get older and life gets in the way." Like George, I wonder where the fanatics have gone, probably all at MMA gyms. (please read in your best curmudgeon voice
)When I started Aikido, I trained 5-7 days a week two hours a day. I kept that up for the better part of 10 years barring injury. When I had to travel for work, I took my gi and trained in whatever city I found myself. Was that actually the best use of my time? Probably not, but it's what I did. I know there are still folks out there like that, but it seems that the average age has gone up a lot, and those of us who aren't single and 20 years old have a lot less disposable time on our hands. Particularly in the last two years I've trained less than ever, mostly because now I have two young children and have a lot of critical responsibility at my work. Despite that, I'm trying to get to the dojo three days a week again and it is definitely a hardship to make that happen, both for me and my spouse and children. At two days a week (for me) I come very close to the point where it doesn't even feel like training, and I have had to very seriously consider accepting that and stepping completely away from the dojo.
Topic Two: Aikido and Aikido-lite plus (at no extra charge!) pre/post war Aikido.
Before reading on, please remind yourself that I am sharing my own views and opinions, not trying to debate anyone here. George, I also have no doubt that you will disagree with this statement, you may even (rightfully) take offense. In my mind, Aikido IS Aikdio-lite. The awesome art we all think of in association with Ueshiba Morihei happened before 1942. When O-Sensei retired and handed over Aikido to his son (and Tohei Sensei), Aikido (and Aikido-lite) was born. Before that, I see one man's flavor of Daito Ryu aiki-budo. I believe Doshu simplified the curriculum to the point that it was possible to do without using any "aiki" as I currently understand the term. Unfortunately it was that iteration of the art that has spread worldwide and is what most folks practice today. I really appreciate Mark Murray's lengthy and well researched quotes, they very much echo my own view of what being a post-war uchideshi meant and what specific contact those people had with O-Sensei or his immediate teaching. Being and uchideshi meant sleeping at the dojo and training very hard every single day. It did not mean that you were a personal student of O-Sensei who followed him every where 24/7 365. Well over 90% of the Aikido I see today is simply very cooperative jujutsu. It can be a great workout and a source of real and profound joy, but I do not see or feel any aiki in it.
I think for a long time I was bitter at Aikido because I wanted to believe all the things I had read about it in books, and I felt that in so many ways Aikido was letting me down by not being that thing. I actually enjoy Aikido a lot more now that I don't hold it up to that standard. I now try to do my aikido with what little aiki I have, but I also don't fault it for what it is. I can play in Aikido because I have other venues to try to study aiki in, and different tools than ikkyo to learn it from. It's either ironic or telling that I feel I learned almost everything (I think) I know about aiki from outside of Aikido.