Mark, I'm not saying that any of the folk out in front are criticizing where aikido went. I'm simply saying it is taken that way and often the way of talking about it leaves that impression.
I was going to follow up on my post now that I'm feeling a bit better and less hazy but you posted first.
Really I think that a greater understanding of things always makes a difference when you go back and reread classic material. I have a habit of rereading Wittgenstein every few years and I must say each time I get new insights and understanding of what is a really rather difficult philosopher. What I see is that he is actually quite clear in many ways, it just requires the reader to have a deeper understanding to allow them to understand. The same is true of my Aikido training. I still have moments where something said to me 15 years ago flashes back in my brain and I say "Ohhhhhhhh." Geez, missed that completely.
Anyway, I think my point is that if someone says "you're not doing Ueshiba M's aiki!" they take it as an insult. And you guys *do* say that rather often, you said it up above. I understand completely what you're saying (and I agree with what *you mean by it* FWIW). But we could have a long and lovely philosophical discussion about what that *really* means since the reality is that Ueshiba M's Aikido was a multi-layered, multi-faceted thing that itself evolved in a variety of directions. They're all Ueshiba M's aikido. The exact nature of the aiki aspect is one part of it (and you and I may think it is the absolutely most important part, but others who went a different direction may disagree). So depending on how the statement is read it could be taken innocently or with a great deal of insult. In that *other* thread going on right now you can see a great example of someone arguing about what they *think* people are saying rather than what people mean. It ain't always easy to make that clear. And it does require a receptive listener as well.
Take a comparison to dogs. My wife and I raise and train Australian Shepherds. Lots of experience in that world and my wife makes extra cash on the side as a person who trains other people how to train their own dogs. Personally I don't care for extreme breeds. But I still know that a pug is a dog. So is a Chinese Crested (blech!). But they're still dogs but since I come from the world of "they should be useful, they should have instincts, they should be this or that, etc." they just don't seem like "real" dogs to me. But... as much as I don't care for them they are still dogs. And people love their own breeds for their own reasons and idiosyncrasies. So as much as I don't care for toy and "vanity" breeds, well, they're still dogs. But put a Chinese Crested next to an Australian Shepherd and you'll wonder how on earth they could possibly be the same species...
So I try to avoid saying "that's not Ueshiba M's aiki". Yes and no. It depends, and I don't think it's worth the angst of arguing over. Let the work and abilities speak for themselves. And let those who want to pursue the version as presented by his son's understanding (which is the version that "took hold" and became incredibly popular) continue in its own path. I know you don't disagree with this, but they all have their own value to those who find value in them. And it *is* Ueshiba M's "Aikido" in many ways. Just like nobody really can do *his* exactly.
No, I don't disagree that the understanding of "aiki" vs. "ai" and "ki" is important to understanding Ueshiba M's teachings. But I also understand that his art also became something else, something more for many people. And I leave it at that. It ain't for me, but there's a lot of stuff that ain't for me. Like pugs...