After all those years being taught this way, finding there are people like Ushiro Sensei, did you feel somewhat betrayed by Saotome Sensei?
Absolutely not... frustrated by the whole lack of principle based instruction but not "betrayed" at all. I was the luckiest guy alive to have met Sensei. almost by accident, if you believe in accidents. From the first hour` of my training I was exposed to what is still the best Aikido I have ever encountered, and at this point I have encountered a lot.
If I hadn't had Sensei for a teacher, I would not necessarily even understood what Ushiro was saying, what Kuroda was doing, just how amazing Angie was. I might have done what lots of others did and written it all off and gone right back to doing what I had been doing before. Lots of people have done just that. There were 700+ people at that first Aiki Expo ten years ago. I'll bet no more than 10 - 20 % of them came back with their training transformed.
Saotome Sensei gave me my love of Aikido, he gave me a sense of the Founder's presence in my training which I have never lost. He taught all of us to move straight at the threat and not ever back up (energetically anyway). From the start I knew there was a profound mental component to Aikido, that technique started long before physical contact was ever made, he made me comfortable with weapons work and let me see that weapons and empty hand were integral to Aikido, at least the kind I wanted to do. And he set the standard for clean, effective, and effortless technique that has been my pot of gold ever since.
And the single greatest gift he ever gave his students was, not just the support or encouragement to look outside Aikido for training, but the actual instruction to do so.
So, while other folks debate whether this person or that person has anything to offer us as Aikido people, I have been out there for years looking for whomever could show me something. I'll train with anyone I think can show me something worth while as long as they aren't abusive. They don't even have to be personable. Sensei created that attitude, and amongst teachers I have encountered, it is a very rare gift.
The folks who want to assign blame in all this are wasting energy that could be better spent. Sensei has done the best he could and is still actually trying to get better at his explanations, because he ahs seen with his won students how that has helped them, not to mention seeing how "success" functions in motivating effort. But his great gift was that he trained like a complete manic and made the sacrifices to do so, came to America and lived off nothing, and spent every cent he had on setting up the transmission to a bunch of us newbies. And the Aikido we got to see every single day was as good as it gets.
Anything he couldn't give us because he didn't know how to has been available from somewhere else if we took the trouble to find it. Some have and many have not. But, I for one, feel blessed rather than "betrayed".
Don't lose perspective on this whole thing. Back in the seventies when I started, there was almost no awareness of much of we discuss daily on these threads. Daito Ryu was completely misunderstood and even maligned within the Aikido community. I thought aikijutsu was pretty much the same as jujutsu and Aikido was the "soft" art. Even if I had read that there was another way of looking at things, there were every few places on could have gone to find it, and almost no awareness of the people who did have the goods that we might have sought out. The American Koryu folks who have been so influential were all still in Japan. The most senior Americans outside of Hawaii were 4th Dans. There was no internet, all the books on Aikido fit on one shelf of a small bookcase, I know because I owned them all. There were more translations of the Tao Teh Ching available than there were books on Aikido. Aikido Journal was a pamphlet that was zeroxed and stapled together.
So, for folks who were not encouraged by their teachers to be widely aware of other arts and get some training in them, it was easy to be be unaware of what was out there. The rather arrogant attitude that many folks had about Aikido, that it was the best martial art, that we had the moral and spiritual high ground over other arts, that O-Sensei was the greatest martial artist who ever lived was a huge disservice to the Aikido community because it encouraged people to be far too parochial in their attitudes about things. We are still paying for that now. There are still Japanese Shihan heading major organizations whose senior students have to sneak out to train outside the standard paradigm. There are far more people starting to experience these new ways to think about and train with these outside teachers of all sorts than can publicly admit they are doing so. It's folks like me, who don't have to hide the fact from their teachers who can blab all about it on-line.
Anyway, the amount of information out there now is exponentially greater than when I started and the possibilities of training with with really top level teachers both from within Aikido and from outside is so much greater that it makes what went on in the seventies look like nothing by comparison. All this, why would I want to do that stuff is really just a hold over from times in which folks couldn't find much even if they did want to. I think folks should be feel blessed that there are places to go to get new persepectives rather than sit there thinking they don't need to change anything or blaming some teacher for not knowing how to communicate what he was doing very well. These days the training and teachers are available with far less work than at any time our history. Sensei told me that this was the way to get better and I have been doing so ever since. That's a far better gift than anything he could have taught me technically.