I think that the most interesting thing to me about now or then is the passion with which we trained.
It might have been a result of the overall passion we felt as a Country devided by the duality of war. We seemed to believe more deeply then. We were willing to spend our lives in a worthy cause. Hooker Sensei and I are both veterans of the Viet Nam war.
We are both volenteers. We were the generation that created the Peace Corp, hippies, Acid rock, Free love, herpies, AIDS, the space program, velcro, felt tip pens, P.C.s, and all the rest of what the world today is reeling from.
We had more time to train and to dedicate to training. We believed in social change, not in any damn salad bowl philosophy. We believed that we could change the world with hard work, grass, and love, and Aikido fit that idea perfectly. We believed. We were willing to forego and sacrifice a lot to be part of it. Look at all the teachers today who married late and are without children. It is seriously disproportionate.
The teachers of today had the opportunity to train with mystical entities. Great magicians of whom Saotome Sensei is really the last. NO one embodies the power, grace, and magic of the old masters as closely as Saotome. And we are still here and close enough to embrace the magic he still serves up.
Chris, I feel like there is a gulf between this generation, those thirty plus year veterans and those still coming up that is a great deal more real than mere age. Today there is only hope, where we believed. There is a serious deference to science and mechanics instead of 'ki'. Or there are merely goofy kids who want to feel 'the force' and wonder when we are going to bring out the light sabers.
OTOH yes. You cant empty a beer bottle and throw it out the window these days and not hit a godan or rokudan. So the level of training is much higher than in the old days and truth be told, most of the old guys bodies are really broken up. I hope we learned from this and protect our students better.
I have hope. I have respect for all those brave men who went before me. I have passion still, but the magic is fading. And tomorrow there is no magic at all.