Since I've been off and on bored out of my mind hanging out at a hospital for a relative...
I think Cliff here has a point and it is something I've been trying to convince folk of for years. Yeah, I'm in the IS camp. I've been quite honored to have time on the mat with quite a few really talented folk over the years. I do see a consistent story underlying all this stuff and I do think that this is pretty much what Takeda and O-sensei were doing. But that said I recognize that Tohei had his take on things. As did Kisshomaru. And each deshi themselves had different views in to what was going on. And as a result all of them are doing some aspect of Ueshiba's Aikido. All of them. Even where they differ. And I am at a loss to understand why that's hard for people to grok.
A tree is often used to represent a lineage. And yes, the lineage goes off in all sorts of different branches forming new branches themselves. And that's fine. But so many want to ask "Which one is the real deal?". And frankly I don't think the question has an answer. Or the answer isn't going to be satisfying. Because they all are. And they all aren't. Ueshiba Morihei is gone. Takeda is gone. What we have is what we have now.
Now some will continue to argue that "aiki" is this or that or something else. I am cool with that because it is all those things depending what branch you happen to be swinging from. And I'm *perfectly* happy to acknowledge that the one I'm on, the ideas I have, my understanding of Aiki is itself a branch somewhere on that same tree. I'd like to think from my own experiences and my own time spent that it is relatively close to the trunk, but I'm also not so concerned about it if it's not. It just is what it is.
The beauty of Aikido in today's world is that it is widely available, popular and accessible. And I think there's some really great stuff out there being done in styles that have a totally different take on what aiki is from my own. I may disagree that it is the same thing, but hey, opinions vary. And just because I don't want to do what that guy over there is doing because I think it lacks the essential aiki core that I see as important doesn't mean I think what they're doing is worthless. Just not on the right track for me. For instance I know one guy who is remarkable in his timing, flow, relaxation and everything else who can do really amazing stuff. But at the same time he doesn't have that core of Aiki that I want. But I respect his ability and have zero problem saying he's doing aikido, because frankly he is. Is it the same as what Ueshiba and Takeda were doing? Well, not IMHO but hell, who cares what I think. And the style he does is popular, well designed, beloved by its practitioners, and I think does a world of good for their students. And I don't need to be the one to argue about their "legitimacy". It's not my concern. And not my place.
So I don't worry much about these things. I do, however, spend a lot of time training myself. I do spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways to improve my teaching to help transmit what I think is going on to those handful who I train with. Which is exactly what everyone else should be doing with whatever the heck it is they think Aikido is for them. And more branches will form, more bifurcations happen. If this stuff is worthy and worthwhile it will grow stronger. And the branch will itself grow. If not, it will go away.
Okay, that's enough random blather from me today as I sit on a plastic chair huffing cleaning fumes in the waiting room... Carry on...