Re: The "Death" of the Traditional Organization
Ah, language! Accurate thoughts, clearly expressed George; although your title makes me cringe a bit. Transition is inevitable, but how we affect it is mission-critical. You and I wouldn't be where we are today, but for the big organizations (please don't construe that as a defense). My suggestion is that we need to be consistently welcoming and appreciative... we should strive to make it easy for those who have dedicated their lives to teaching, to spreading the Founder's art, and built big organizations in the process, to embrace these changes as a legitimate part of their legacy.
You and I have personally experienced (and observed) bonds as deep as any while a member of one of the big organizations. There's no denying, most people practicing martial arts are good, decent human beings. The fact that human beings are flawed will never be avoided; political and financial challenges are just part of that equation. How we come together is what's important. Our generation is fortunate to have a reset opportunity coming up; like you, I hope we can do a better job through lessons learned.
Most understand that "association" is far more important than "Association." It's the personal connection, mutual respect, and demonstrated commitment that bonds people (i.e. both teachers and students) that's important. Who you train with... are able to "bootstrap" with, that influences your ultimate abilities and attitude. Aikido, more than any other modern budo, can be expressed in so many ways that its identity could be lost without an anchor; I think there is some value to the concept of a headquarters (again, please don't construe this to be a defense of the status quo). I just think we need to be as gracious as possible throughout the process so that opportunities are not lost.
Those of us who have genuinely embraced these events have all felt the euphoria of freedom you so aptly describe; I just hope no one forgets that the foundation of freedom is personal responsibility.
See you in Orlando brother!