I would like to open with a discussion of O sensei by his son, Kisshomaru in... "A life in Aikido."
After a recent seminar, I was reading and reflecting on a direction, and and the continued discovery of the ignorance of such basics as the warm up exercises in the art and how and why they were done, what they were for and what they were meant to deliver to the adept.
"...since O sensei had made his search for the true path of Aiki the center of his life, I don't think these "legendary feats" were all he intended to do. But since Aikido was still at an early stage, I think he used these feats as a means to explain and promote Aikido to the masses, who might not easily acknowledge it without power or the proof of power. In other words, my sense is that O sensei's legendary feats were intended not only to demonstrate or show off what he could do, but to create and opportunity for the introduction of a true martial art.
O sensei could use some rather dramatic methods to show what Takemusu Aiki...was."
I think this stands in stark contrast to what has become of the art in the hands of those who thought to pursue it's higher goals without the means to deliver as martial artists. It strains credibility to be copying the trappings of a martial art without the means to deliver. And apparently the more one researches and reads, the more one discovers that the arts founder not only shared the same view, but stressed it continually.
Of interest, in the same chapter, We find a discussion of Kito ryu as the study of In yo ho, with direct correlation to Ueshiba's pursuit in Daito ryu's aiki in yo ho, with the advice that one cannot pursue one or the other, but must maintain the union of opposites to be effective. This lines up with the new translations currently taking place and those, fit in well with the Chinese models. Yet we hear these same sayings (which the non-aikido people understand)... were un-intelligible to those students of Aikido who would become the Japanese teachers the Aikido community is currently following.
I think that nothing has changed from the post war taking over of Kisshomaru to today. I believe O sensei's famous entry comment "This is not my Aikido" into the post war dojo, would be used upon his entry into the majority of modern dojo, were he alive today. I keep hearing this assessment stated by Shihan and teachers I am meeting. "I think we missed it." "I do not believe that we would withstand O sensei's scrutiny of our methods today." I think O sensei, would no doubt agree. For most, they cannot enter into an informed discussion on the tenets of in yo ho and how it applies to effective movement, much less how it would be the cornerstone of soft power in a martial art based on Aiki. It appears that once they experience aiki and the ability to generate power, they now agree that were O sensei to re-enter the picture today, his entry would sunder the Aikdo community, as many, if not most, would have to re-wire or leave. In other words, his re-entry would turn modern Aikido on its head.
Against outside pressure, Ueshiba's pursuit of effective power as the core of Aikido would withstand the current demands, would withstand critical review for internal power and aiki and he would in fact, get along with and have more in common with those pursuing that as the foundation of their aikido than the current methods of the majority practicing the art.
Nice read Dan,
IMO, he never intended for everyone to get it. He had more than enough years to complain about the direction things were going, but apart from a few references to him blowing up about how it was being practiced, he seemed ok with it overall. He produced a few students of worth and probably felt that his students would do the same, but as far as everyone understanding? His teacher spoke clearly against that actually and while he may have wanted to change things, he doesn't seem to have wanted to change that.
As for people today, even with clear instruction of internal skills, I don't think it would change much. You would have a few people of real ability and a bunch of people who show up, put in their time and go home. As you know, without a serious investment of time, effort and brain you're only going to get so far. That's really no different than anything though, martial arts or otherwise. Few people care to be excellent.
What matters most, IMO, is clear instruction and understanding. When you have clear,understandable ways of explaining things then you have something that people can learn even when they might not have someone of excellence there to teach them. IS, to this point, simply has not had that.