Re: Non-Aikido thoughts and considerations
As an outside observer, without a "horse" in the race so-to-speak, I've found myself interested in the history of Daito-Ryu and Aikido as the availability of information on my own art is thin at best.
Having read nearly everything Stanley has put out on the topics and much of what Peter Goldsbury has written, it seems to me that Ueshiba's Aikido died with him and is likely never to be fully "reconstructed" as Mark Murray nicely alluded to.
The development of Ueshiba's martial skills was a result of very unique circumstances and instruction. Ignoring the spiritual aspect entirely, simply the fact that he received Daito-Ryu instruction directly from Takeda resulted in exposure to a non-standardized, and changing curriculum. The Daito-Ryu Takeda exposed Ueshiba to was not necessarily the Daito-Ryu transmitted to Tokimune, Horikawa, etc..
Add to the fact that Ueshiba brought in elements from other arts and you have a martial foundation that cannot be replicated by a modern practitioner. I would argue that even if Ueshiba hadn't found himself drawn so deeply into Omoto-Kyo and focused all his energy and time on transmitting his interpretation of DR or early Aikido he would have had a difficult time truly passing on his particular skill-set.
How would one go about trying to developing it today? You can turn to Daito-Ryu to try and fill in the gaps, but that in itself opens a can of worms. Which branch of Daito-Ryu would provide you with the appropriate skill-set? Which interpretation is the genuine article? Didn't Kondo claim that he was the only one who was shown true Daito-Ryu from Tokimune?
It seems like interest in bringing outside elements into modern Aikido in an attempt to reconstruct Ueshiba's skills has exploded. Nearly every thread seems to include some mention of internal power/aiki skills of some sort. Veteran Shihan like Ikeda are consciously pushing to evolve their skill sets. A friend recently returned from the summer camp in D.C. and said that Bill Gleason's Aikido was spectacularly different than just a few years earlier.
In an attempt to restore Ueshiba's Aikido, modern Aikido seems to be consistently moving towards an evolution beyond it's origins. Even if Ueshiba's skills can't be reconstructed, it doesn't mean they can't be surpassed.