I tend to agree with Kevin here. At some point there needs to be a concrete manifestation of separation where aikido movement is no longer considered martial. For me, that point is at least manifest if one cannot demonstrate the function of the martial aspect of the art.
I think if you argued a technical education as it related to law, or medicine, or engineering... Is a doctor able to maintain her license to practice medicine if she cannot competently perform surgery? What about a lawyer? They went to school. They received an education. But there is a practicality component to a technical education that aikido people sometimes ignore. This is not necessarily a problem if we cease to consider our education technical. The problem comes in when we think we are doctors with our 5 year liberal arts degree in appreciating Pink Floyd's "The Wall" album...
I think we face a challenge to either perform a technical function (and retain our technical education status as a martial art) or leave behind the technical designation and embrace a general education that allows us to pursue personal ideology.
I agree and had the same thought, concerning something along the lines of demonstrating technical proficiency or accountability. I think that by nature aikido (or aikidoka) tend to de-emphasize the technical education in an attempt to prevent aikido from turning into a rote mechanical, step-by-step processed practice. This has probably been the greatest challenge for me to reconcile in my own practice. I hope that I am at a point now where I can interpret and assess what I consider to be "Quality". I think I have reached that through an number of awesome teachers both in Aikido and other arts over the last 20 years of training.
When we look at methodology for training, I think it is best to maybe train in some more basic fundamentals that would provide a foundation prior to doing a more advanced practice such as Aikido.
I think alot of the issue may be that many teachers in Aikido simply teach what they learned or what they are interested in working on. If you are going to get a PhD in Nuclear Physics, you don't enroll in the PhD program, you spend some time/years on some fundamentals that lead up to that practice.
Unfortunately, in most aikido organizations, we hang up a sign that say "aikido classes....come join"..and we through beginners into a methodology that while they like the fact that it is gentle, they agree with the philosophy and can identify with the dojo members...they simply do not have the fundamentals, training, or have developed the prerequiste structure to begin such a practice.
So, we have a high failure rate of students sticking with the art.....of those that stay...you end up with people that have prefected what I call "dojo-fu" and can follow the patterns and movements, and yes, they become very good at "aikido". However, from my obeservations, they operate in some very tight constraints and conditions. They conduct class they way they were taught, they cannot interpret or synthesize new concept well, teaching adaptively with students that present different challenges and paradigms well. They stick to the agenda, or "reciepe" that "sensei" taught them since that is what they know. In alot of cases, at each generations, without synthesis, or exposure, a small bit is lost along they way in translation.
I think if the model were to teach students to a basic black belt level a very solid, fundamental martial curriculum, then say, after 5 years of so...then "graduated" to a "aiki" level of curriclum then you'd be better of then taking the "one size fits all" 0 to 60 MPH curriculum that we tend to do.
That said, I have also seen aikido instructors without a solid background try establish a basic/fundamental basic practice...and it ends up being a static "one-step" process that EVERYONE reaches the conclusion that it is a waste of time.
Personally, i feel there is probably a reason that most Sensei I have respected and feel are worth there weight have spent a great deal of time in arts like Muay Thai, Judo, and BJJ where they learn how to move in non-cooperative environments. I am also intriqued by the IS/IP methods that are being done as well as a method of development/preparation. However, a hodge-podge of the two, don't seem to work well.