Welcome back, Mark! I've been away from the forums, too, but not quite as long as you have been.
I am quoting Mark from a post in response to Corky Quakenbush. It was a very interesting and important topic and I don't mean to take anything away from it here.
But I did want to address this statement. I hear it somewhat frequently, but like many things, it just gets mentioned in passing as if it were true, and no more analysis is required.
What are aikido's standard attacks?
Are they ineffective?
Are they unrealistic?
If so, what makes them that way? Is it the form? Is it the execution (energy/intent/intensity/focus)? Is it something else?
If they are ineffective/unrealistic, why do we practice against them?
If only the execution makes them ineffective/unrealistic, why is that so?
What are effective and realistic attacks?
Please address these questions in your responses, and then feel free to add whatever you deem necessary to further the discussion.
Sorry I missed you when I was over in the States, I would have liked to call by your dojo and shared some mat time. Your country is so big, and my van was slow and time finite, I just couldn't get to see everyone I wanted to.
I'm not sure I can address all of the questions you pose with any form of comprehensive answer. It seems to me that everyone practices with their own level of intensity, given the particular training paradigm in each dojo/style.
The type of attack that I was 'schooled' in at my dojo is one that could be labeled soft/focussed/high intent.It is effective in that it provides the energy for nage to work with. In the case of a working with a lower grade it would be much lower intensity and could be seen from the outside as ineffective.
As I mentioned in the other thread, on my travels I was able to comfortably deal with those I practiced with, as they were all attacking with a similar feel to what I was used to, somewhat 'harder' in some cases.
However, Corky's brand of attack on nage's centre, felt altogether different, much more challenging. And the means of resolution, based more on nage's intention towards uke than on technique, I found fascinating. Not a million miles from what I had been practicing all along, but different and exciting enough to want to learn more.
I think the effective/ineffective question should be focussed on - do your training methods get you to a place where you can manifest aikido under a committed attack where harmony is restored and the attack nullified or not? If yes, then it is effective, if not then it isn't.
I like the fact that there are unanswered questions and I like the fact that there are people like Corky out there who are prepared to ask the awkward questions that challenge the status quo.
L.A. is relatively not that far from you, if you find yourself down that way, why not look him up, I'm sure you would be made very welcome and I'd love to hear about your own take on what he is doing.