Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"
Well said, Janet. Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts and for having the integrity to step forward to share them with us. (I have moved this thread into the "Announcements & Feedback" forum.)
As you and others here know, I created (and continue to maintain) AikiWeb as a place for people to come together to discuss aikido -- a place for meaningful exchange of ideas, experiences, and opinions about the art. Such an endeavor for such an exchange on the Internet isn't new. Many people here, myself included, have participated in places like the Aikido-L mailing list and the rec.martial-arts Usenet newsgroups in days past.
One thing I witnessed in these former "Internet aikido discussion groups" were instances when people of a certain aikido background (eg Aikikai, Yoshinkan, Ki Society, Tomiki) explicitly or implicitly put down another group due to differences in their manner of training -- in essence, a "my style is better than your style" kind of discussion. Or, worse yet, these discussions sometimes actually became a "your style is worse than my style" argument.
These days, there is very little of such "style" wars. However, the same kind of divisive language and polarizing rhetoric can be seen in other ways. Specifically, the manner of discussion surrounding "internal training" has made it seemingly difficult for some discussions to take place productively.
I very well understand that the manner of training espoused in internal training methods go counter to some of what is practiced by many aikido practitioners -- so, of course, the discussion will sometimes need to highlight such differences. Yet, what I have seen feels like an increasing amount of condemnations, disparagement, and even seeming contempt for what the majority of people in aikido are practicing -- and are even enjoying practicing.
Frankly, if this continues, I can only see AikiWeb being a place only for those who subscribe to internal training. Although some of you may think that would be a positive destination, that is not where I want to see AikiWeb end up -- just as I do not want the site to become only for those practicing Aikikai, only for those practicing Yoshinkan, only for those practicing Ki Society, and so on.
Again -- that is not where I want to see AikiWeb ending up.
Of course, I want there to be expressions of differing opinions. And, of course, I want that expression to be heartfelt and passionate. What I do not want is AikiWeb to have divisive rhetoric. What I do not want is AikiWeb to be just a small number of polarized factions.
My requests are simple. Be respectful in your discussions. Keep your discussions directed toward the topic and not toward the people behind the topic. Contribute positively to the discussion.
And, I will only echo what Janet wrote above, as she has done it better than I can right now: "if Aikiweb is to be an online forum for the broad spectrum of people who enjoy training in aikido, there needs to be a baseline respect for the disparity and breadth of all aikido and frankly sometimes that just means choosing not to post so that people who DO a certain mainstream practice can discuss among themselves the things that interest them."
So, please, folks. Let's steer these discussions away from divisive and polarizing language but towards a rich and meaningful exchange of ideas, experiences, thoughts, and opinions.
I appreciate your attention and welcome your thoughts regarding any of this.