It is time, I do believe, for the Aikido leaders of today to seriously consider the forging of responsible associations of courageous intent and non compromising legitimacy. These attempts must remain free from arbitrary claims of historical entitlement and the patently false assumption of hierarchical legitimacy by birth or by proclamation. It must be our firm resolution to then carry on the ongoing search for the real and complete O Sensei and his legacy. Perhaps in this way, we can inspire and encourage successive generations to do the same when their time comes due.
It is in our own self interest to do so... The older generation is passing away as we speak. We lose another direct connection to the Founder or one of his long time students every year now. Many of these pioneers set up large organizations to promote the spread of Aikido, and in the best circumstances, create a systematic transmission of what that teacher understood of the Founder and his art.
The first generation of Japanese teachers who had actually trained under O-Sensei were invested with a mystique that none of us will ever be accorded. Those of us who have relied for our authority and positions of importance on our connections with these various teachers will be sadly surprised when they are totally marginalized after the passing of these authority figures.
Anyone who has not stepped up and developed himself or herself as a world class instructor in their own right, will find no one really cares that they trained with so and so Sensei back in 60's and 70's. This is not a competitive endeavor but rather one of supporting each other and sharing. Every ushi deshi admitted that he only got a portion of what the Founder knew. So each of us really only got a portion. The best way for us to develop and Aikido that on some level replicates the Aikido created by the Founder is to combine our efforts and share what we know. By putting all these pieces together, we might actually come up with something that the Founder wouldn't complain that "no one is doing my Aikido".
And the support and respect we previously got by standing in close proximity to some teacher who had trained with the Founder would be there, first and foremost because we gave it to each other. I think the worst thing we could do would be to attempt to take old thinking and outdated organizational structures in to the future. We need to make ourselves as good as we possibly can as practitioners, develop our ability to teach what we understand, and we need to work with each other to support each other and to share the fruits of our efforts collectively. Then I think Aikido could well live up to it's promise of being a truly amazing art.
My experience at the Aikido Bridge Seminar in San Diego is an example of what I mean. I got to hang with and share with some fabulous senior teachers, train with folks from a number of backgrounds and organizations, and came away with a number of relationships that I fully expect to last the rest of my life. And everyone was so welcoming and happy that I was there. That's the beginning of the process I think.
Thanks for the article Francis. I think we are on the same page on this endeavor.