Where AikiWeb fails, I think, is when people won't meet and won't shut up. You've every right to voice your opinion--but if you won't back it it up, there's no reason why others have to respect it.
Yeah, the old "put up or shut up" standard. That's the bottom line, isn't it?
In ordinary discussion of most topics, if you make a claim, you can "explain" it or "back it up" with more and more words. But in budo, if you make a claim, you have to demonstrate skill or you look like a fool.
And this is vitally important because budo is directly concerned with the problem of human violence. Some methods are known to work and some work so well that the one who discovers them is loathe to share them lest they be turned against him. Part of budo spirituality is understanding who you can teach something to and who you should not teach under any circumstances. Another part is having the humility to recognize that another person knows something very important that you have no idea about, whatsoever. IP is one of these areas and Graham is an excellent representative of the group that thinks he already knows all he needs. Those who support him, then, are betraying a serious flaw in both intellectual thinking and in spiritual depth. Those who follow him, then, are placing their lives in danger even as they become intellectually mushy and spiritually vacuous.
I think the real essence here is in the matter of ki.
If you really, physically, understand your own ki, the claims of most "ki masters" and many "aikido teachers" become clearly ridiculous. Ki exists and works in the zone between mind and body. It's how the mind accesses the body. When one has too little understanding of the body, his "ki" is in fact only an intellectual abstraction and his statements about ki reflect only his own wishes or his made-up fantasies about something he has not directly experienced. From there, everything goes down the drain, including ki, technique and life, itself. How tragic is it if we allow such people to make bizarre and unfounded claims about ki, technique, aikido and spirituality without lodging protest and clarification? From one false master, thousands of people may absorb and spread the false way. I have no problem seeing it and saying that it is false. You don't have to be the greatest in the world to adhere to the true principles. But if you consistently violate all the fundamental principles of life and the universe, nothing you do can find truth.
The good students, the people who are learning, take the rebuke, think about it, and allow it to change them. The poor students get resentful and close their ears. The choice is yours.
I get "rebuked" almost daily by a ghost and it almost brings me to tears to remember when the man was alive, to understand that what I thought was a "rebuke" and harassment was actually like a pat on the back from an excellent master.
I was at the yoseikan hombu in Shizuoka, in the middle of a randori, almost worn out, doing my best to keep on, when Akira Tezuka passed through and shouted "ORENJI! GAMBARE!" ((Orange! Fight! [or "Try Harder!]))
I felt it as a poke and an unnecessary hassle, criticizing me for not trying hard enough when I was doing my best.
Now I know that Tezuka Sensei was giving me as close as he could (as a shihan) to a compliment and encouragement. It was supposed to be uplifting. He was sending me ki through his kiai and it went right through me.
Tezuka Sensei died a couple of years ago at a fairly young age and I know I'll never see him again, but every now and then I hear that voice barking, "ORENJI! GAMBARE!" and I feel such deep gratitude that it hurts my heart. But it also achieves his desired uplifting effect and I do receive his ki, now, and it helps me along life's path.
It reminds me of something attributed to Yoshida Kotaro: in life, some people can never give back to you, no matter what you give them, because they cannot "contain" what you give them. No matter how much you do, your gifts just go right through them, so they always need more and, therefore, have nothing to give back to you.
So here, we have some people who are always begging for attention and validation because they let everything go right through and can't contain what has been given to them. We have to learn to recognize this and realize that these people simply cannot contain the values we were all given. They always need more and never give anything of real value. And that is a spiritual problem, but it can be overcome by the physical work needed to 1) recognize one's own ki; and 2) develop one's own ki. Without that physical work, budo is reduced to an intellectual "argument" in which all sides are equal. And that's just another way of saying "baloney".
Another reference to Richard Kim comes from his book The Classical Man, in which a would-be spear expert begged for an audience with Yoshida Kotaro. "If he approves my ability, I'm made," the fellow said. The story that follows is pathetic. The would-be master finds that he is worthless against Yoshida. The title of the story: "He Who Seeks a Compliment Gets the Truth."
The truth is a wonderful thing if we find it by searching for it. But if we get the truth while searching for a compliment, it's usually not very pleasant.