Peter A Goldsbury
The other issue for me is that of invented tradition and this is connected with the question of 'true' understanding. If you remove this word from the title of the thread, it becomes a no-brainer. Of course, one can understand budo without training in Japan, but what does 'true' understanding add?
In reading this thread and a few others related to it, I was reminded of the concept of the so-called "pizza effect". Not that it is a completely consistent analogy with Aikido and it's global spread, but there is a lot here to be "chewed" on (pardon the pun). It seems to me that Aikido in many cases is a great example of an art "marketed" in some sense to the larger, global community and that in itself fed back in to what is done today. So I wonder how much of what is done today and seen as "tradition" is actually more along the (rather slippery) lines of so-called "invented" tradition.
And oddly enough some of my friends in koryu arts sometimes (not always) seem *less* concerned about some of these cultural things than those in Aikido, an art that is quite clearly vastly more modern.
Anyway, just a comment from the cheap seats. That's about the limits of my knowledge on these topics and it is more a sign of my own skepticism about many things.
So, carry on...