Very interesting post! I'm sorry to see, but not at all surprised that it generated no meaningful discussion.
This I very strongly agree with. I have often thought that the only real challenge most aikidoists face in their training is learning how to take better ukemi. Interestingly, it is quite noticeable that the level of ukemi has improved in aikido over the years.
Here is a video of pre-war Morihei and some pretty standard ukemi
. This would have been a few years into Shioda's training, but it doesn't look like he is an uke in the video. Yes. It is a demonstration, but we don't have much more to go on.
I wonder what Morihei would think about adding a sparring/resistive/uncooperative/alive/whatever training method to aikido, because, as I understand, he did not want there to be a winner and loser per se, which necessitates a cooperative model.
Pre-war, I think several students saw the changes being made and tried to address concerns over those changes in their own schools. Mochizuki was one of them. His system was a very good MMA type system.
Shioda went to the Kodokai.
Tomiki attempted to add a "competitive" element to help with using aiki in a more freestyle manner. Unfortunately (and I believe Ueshiba understood this better than his student), that competitive element never worked as it had been planned. Today, we don't have aiki being used in T/S systems but rather there is a pure focus on jujutsu.
I think Ueshiba understood that any form of competition would just devolve his aikido into jujutsu. Ueshiba had done the fighting, the jujutsu, the sparring, the competitions and realized it would not lead to his views of what aikido should be. That isn't to say that competition, fighting, MMA, etc are bad or wrong. Just that they are detrimental to Ueshiba's aikido.
The important fact to remember, though, is that Ueshiba's aikido did not *need* cooperative practice.
This is a serious question, and one that has been avoided in the past. If the blade of a cutting sword contacts a "changed body," what is the affect? Is the man still cut? What about the point of a knife? Still stabbed? If the answers are yes, then the value of the "conditioning" is minimal without the ability to stop or avoid a strike, whatever that entails.
If you're in a knife fight, you're going to get cut. That's the general rule, aiki or no aiki. If a razor sharp blade is drawn along skin, it's going to cut. That's the general rule, aiki or no aiki.
But, then again, the martial arts (all of them) are about training to avoid that particular outcome. The martial arts aren't about stopping bullets with one's body, becoming impervious to razor sharp cuts, etc. They are about the interaction up to that point such that a cut is not successfully made, or if it is, that it is made in a manner that does not impair/maim/kill.
Aiki in a martial art creates better odds that one can achieve the above than compared to someone without aiki. Aiki alone, generally, will not do this. As aiki changes the body, that means the martial skill needs to be trained. If you want to box, you have to learn how to box. If you want to fight, you have to learn how to fight. Etc. The advantage that aiki creates is not insignificant nor should it be underestimated, as those hundreds of great martial artists from all areas found when they tested Takeda, Ueshiba, Sagawa, Kodo, etc.