When I first conceived the basis for this article, I had the best of intentions. Then, I remembered that most apropos of reminders, "when Man plans, God laughs.". Shoulda, woulda, coulda, who knew?
I accept that, while the word "Aiki" may have fresh interpretations and more recent manifestations , its emergence as a valid, genuine and all encompassing value concept for mankind began a long time ago. It is my conviction that the Founder of Aikido was the latest in a long line of geniuses, who focused on its essential merits, incorporated its lessons on an ongoing basis for his entire life, and was never satisfied that he had indeed "got it" at anytime. Even at his last demonstration at Hibiya Park in Tokyo, he is remembered to proclaim that he was "still in the first grade of Aikido", and that there was so much more for succeeding generations to explore, appreciate and to share. His Silver Bridge was not only his to cross, but for the entirety of mankind, and for as long as we all believed in, and upheld Aiki Principles.
I truly believe as well that he would scoff at the amazing stories of his legendary prowess, his prescient sense of Ki extension to his environment, and to the adoration of his disciples then back in the day, and now, holding him up on a pedestal from afar. His was not the legacy of "stories", firsthand accounts of his brilliance, nor of being the paragon of Aiki virtue from which all other similar accomplishments flowed, and owed their existence, or even relevance. If he could, he'd return to say "stop all this nonsense already! I did what I did for me, and me alone in my quest for excellence. If others choose to follow my lead, they are more than welcome to do so. The caveat is, and always will be, you must first take full ownership of whatever you find and accomplish, just as I did. You may not credit me for your success, or blame me for your failure. My Aikido is my own. It will cease to exist, the moment I too cease to exist. Take these same Aiki Principles, if you will, and create your own Aikido!"
I have nothing against giving due credit and attention to the recorded accounts of the Founder's talents, or his abilities to amaze and to astound. I do not scoff at the almost deification of his achievements by those who trained with him, or are now trying to "capture lightning in a bottle" from later generations. Have at it to your hearts' content. Make a cult of it if you like, and proclaim pre-eminence from the highest street corner. I simply do not care. Those accounts are stories to me, and will always remain so. I care not a fig for any veracity, authenticity or undeniable link to their "truth" to make my Aikido any more genuine. To my mind, it is futile and irrelevant to define our collective sense of the Founder's vision and purpose upon events from the past, whether fictional or provenanced.
Past deeds do not ultimately matter, when there is so much to accomplish today, and well into tomorrow. We are meant to be innovators, not mere copy cats, or to simply function as wannabe clones of an impossible idea.
Aikido is not a one time accomplishment by a now gone genius. It is a word, a concept of what each and every person who is willing to pay the price of appropriate "due diligence" now, and for the rest of their lives, to make their own, and to share new findings with others of similar ambition and resolve.
Aikido is, and will always be about what more can be done to help lift the human spirit, to give it fresh and truly affirmative energy to realize the reasons why we too were born.
The "due diligence" I constantly refer to is the essential accountability for each serious student of the Founder's example to create and fashion his own aikido from the clay of current resources, just as the Founder did, with what he himself had available. Hey, his lemonade was pretty good, wouldn't you say?
Back finally to "Being committed to Aiki". It is everyone's right to choose how, when and why they define their own aikido, and the levels of commitment and intensity needed to pursue that quest. It can even be seen as a "holy grail" to discover, not in the past, or from someone else's dreams, but within.