Rather than merely echo Peter's reply, I thought I might point anyone who is interested to a fine piece of scholarship that addresses that notion in a fairly rigorous and sometimes surprising manner:
To that, I would only add that while the concept of "michi" or "do" has a long provenance, the opening of those arts to broader social circles, while not entirely unknown, particularly during the very late Tokugawa era, didn't really become a mass phenomenon until the Meiji era, and both functional and conceptual change are associated with that opening.
Hope this helps.
Thank you for the link, looks very interesting.
Peter, I guess one is faced with the original....the tao that can be spoken is not the original tao, that you mention...add to that, if you seek it, you cannot find it. Seeking the teacher, the right teacher especially if on does not know what to look for is going to be a huge hinderance. I think there are plenty of westerners that have brought back with them the tennets of budo, and have been given authority to teach their art. Additionally there are quite a few Japanese that have moved here and passed on their art to westerners, such that with a little effort one may find the right teacher. I dont believe this is just limited to aikido, as one can find many other martial arts forging the path in traditional styles.
I wonder if cultural influence may not be as important a factor as you place on it. Not everyone raised in Japan understands budo as a way of life, and budo has survived alongside, or inspite of cultural or social norms. Then I think it is important to ask what influence this might have had, if any on non warrior classes.