Re: Perhaps the tide is changing.
I read this thread with as much interest as surprise - here in "old Europe" I never got the impression that people fine aikido (or karate, judo, taekwondo...) old fashioned and look for something more efficient and "quick & dirty", neither had I ever the impression that people were fed up with gis & hakamas. It's more the opposite - people are very keen on having a hakama, and not only because that's a sign of rank; it looks cool, and elegant, and somehow classy, and no one ever would (except for joking) confuse a hakama with a skirt or an aikidoka with a transvestite...
This said - if someone shows up without gi/ hakama in any dojo I know there wouldn't be a problem that he trains in normal street clothes, but somehow it is not that people are yearning for. Same with Japanese terminology - everyone learns it, some easily, some with difficulties, some not really well, but no one questions the necessity. I think it's great - you may go to Russia or to Algeria and train with Chinese or Zimbabweans, but there is a lingua franca, ushiro ryo te dori is everywhere the same.
Moreover, I think if you train in a martial art and want to do more than just the grips, you'd better take the whole package. Aikido without Japanese clothes, Japanese words, kamiza, bowing and all the paraphernalia would be like Nescafé instead of filter coffee or a Beethoven piano sonata played with an electronic keyboard...something would be missing.
And there is the choice - students can do
- traditional aikido
- other traditional martial arts
- self defense
- modern martial arts
- or they could cross-train and combine.
But I'd loathe to think that aikido in its traditional form would be "outdated" and needed to be reformed in order to become more attractive.
There is a very beautiful verse of the "Faust", saying
"Was ihr den Geist der Zeiten heißt,
ist nur der Herren eigner Geist,
in dem die Zeiten sich bespiegeln."
(And what you call the spirit of time
is just a mirror of your own state of mind)
All the best,