For better or worse - the method of transmission in Aikido (this applies to other arts as well) is to put the Sensei on a pedestal and then create a "discipleship" study body around the pedestal (with varying degrees of insanity, ranging from kooky to kult). If "martial" aspects of the art have been bleeding from the practice . . what mechanism exists to re-introduce them? If internal strength has been missing/lost/de-emphasized . . how can it be regained?
I think there's going to be risk and resistance no matter how you cut it. The resistance is self-evident, the teaching model in aikido is often people walking around telling juniors why their technique needs work. Sometimes it's even "showing" in a helpful way. Sometimes it's "showing in a less than helpful way. All it takes is a handful of seniors that do not possess internal skills to stamp out the eager study of juniors that are chasing them. I believe Dan is trying to address this with his "teachers only" seminars.
The risk is that there's many potential false starts, alienation of students/teachers, lack of consistency of instruction, lack of consolidated information, marginalization, etc. This shouldn't be an endeavor you elect because you want to be popular or hang out with the cool kids.
A risk may be that there's a club that promotes themselves as having the goods - where one or two might, so a student signs up and self-identifies as being on the path to getting the goods. But over time, what quality measures are in place to ensure real progress? These skills are perishable and fragile - you can see how they diminish in an art through non-transmission, too fast expansion (hello aikido and taiji) and a host of other things.
Does that mean the fanatic pursuit of the skills is not worthwhile? Well, I know the path I'm on and I wouldn't change it - but be ready to be potentially dismissed, manipulated, argued with, physically confronted, lied about, etc. (speaking generally from experiences I've heard from others on this path).
But then, the bottom line for me . . I think it's a question everyone needs to ask themselves about their training . .
Is it more important for you to belong, be in charge or achieve excellence?
In a perfect world you can have all three . . but I've yet to see them prioritized all at the same level across the board (not sure it's possible, to be honest).
All good points
I think the answer is to continue to suggest people get out and about and meet who may or may not have it and let it sort itself out. We have good models on both sides; Chinese and Japanese.
There is bound to be false starts and people fumbling but good work is evident. I suggest that as people grow, they make rounds again. There is an education loop isn't there.
To me what is equally validating when you are going to invest so much of your time is to ask to meet successful students. If someone supposedly has a method that you are going to invest...say ten thousand hours into. Ya might want to meet others on that guys path. As you have pointed out yourself.
Most people are smart enough to figure out what is going to work for them. As George has suggested there are good teachers...who are extraordinary but had trouble teaching it. The good news is there are methods-as Ikeda has discovered- that help to understand things and fill in the gaps. Sort of like looking backward as you go forward.
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard from teachers.."Oh my God..this is what he was doing!"
Maybe it actually helps to appreciate both sides, and those extraordinary teachers all the more.
I thinkg the nature of the work actually prevents groups and cults. How can it when no one is claiming expertise and points to others to go and test and play and see what so and so has done with it. That continues to be the beauty of it...to see personal expression as people develop.
It is a good