In thinking about this some more, I'm a little more unsure of my remarks. So rather than say I disagree, I think I'm more comfortable with suggesting that, because almost none of us shares the same exact philosophy as O Sensei, it starts to beg a lot of question when we ourselves start imposing our own standards on other folks. So someone like David, who feels his philosophy or spirituality comes from other places, can be said to be still doing Aikido. (I hope you don't mind my using your example directly, David)
Matt, I appreciate your remarks and think I understand where you are coming from. I do think it is completely possible to practice Aikido principles or philosophy off the mat; in fact, I certainly try to do just that.
I only know that from my experience, I could only attempt to do that after having had the actual Aikido instruction on the mat. It is as though I could not actually take those concepts and apply them until I had certain experiences in my body
David, I really don't want to spend my time telling you what experiences you are or aren't having, and labeling them for you! I'd much rather hear you just talk about your own experiences from your own point of view. Sometimes I think it is easier to speak from a sort of distance about what other people do or say or experience, but perhaps our discussions can be richer when they are focused on sharing our own experiences with sincerity and some of that rigor that Mary mentioned.
Aikido has often left me feeling very sort of exposed in an often uncomfortable way. I have come to find that gee, you know, sometimes I don't feel like being a nice girl. Sometimes I have so much anger I just want to bash someone in the face. Gee, maybe I'm not that peaceful! Maybe I hold way too much tension in my shoulders and neck pretty much all of the time, and why is that? Maybe I approach much of my life as though I am just white-knuckling through my experiences, and why is that? If I truly do want to be peaceful, then what are the barriers within which need to be dissolved for me to get there? For me, it's definitely a rigorous process, and very intertwined with the performance of certain techniques and habitual difficulties that I might have with said techniques.
SO: Personally, I see the philosophical and martial aspects of the art of Aikido as being very bound to one another. I would not wish to separate them. Personally, I see my Aikido journey as a spiritual practice, for some of the reasons I have mentioned, and more. Personally, learning martial applications on the mat has brought a whole new level of awareness regarding my own body movement both on and off the mat. Those are my
experiences. I am interested in hearing about other people's experiences.