Peter A Goldsbury
I am aware of the attractiveness of your observations here, but it leads to a question that cannot be avoided and which the opening poster perhaps did not intend. This is "Why bother keeping aiki 'pure'?" and also takes up a few assumptions of the opening post. Some believe that aikido lost its purity because it lost sight of aiki as its essential component, but we should not beg any questions here and simply assume that aiki has a purity that is self-evident.
I agree, Peter. The art has evolved, and today can be many things to many people, and they seek to fill the perceived gaps in its efficacy in various ways.
So, for context for a corollary to the OP, Reuben Yap wrote:
. . . We watched our Sensei perform the techniques, practiced it on our ukes (who were compliant) and hoped that somehow, with enough repetition, we would magically be able to defend ourselves.
I found that such training makes people lax and for a long time in our dojo we just did the motions and I realized it resulted in horrible Aikido. It may look pretty, fluid and etc but put it under pressure and the gaping holes just come out. I wouldn't even remotely call it self defence. If anything, it may have given false confidence which is all the more dangerous. As an instructor, and for those seeking Aikido as a self-defence form, I felt that I had failed them.
When I started cross-training and learning other martial arts. A lot of things started clicking but it also made me question as to 'What is Aikido?' A lot of the time people comment as to what is 'pure' Aikido or as 'O-Sensei' taught it or one of his uchi-deshi taught it and that any addition was an adulteration of the art. And yes there's of course the controversy that Doshu Kisshomaru watered it down and that for a more true form of Aikido, you need to go back to the uchi-deshis like Saito/Shioda etc etc.
I think such talk about what is 'pure' Aikido is pointless.
Reuben goes on to posit that a number of key historical figures in aikido had experience in other martial arts as part of his rationale for suggesting effective "impurities", so to speak, from other arts are helpful to making aikido an effective "martial" art. Key subjects of your and my discussion, Tada and Tohei, respectively trained in karate and judo prior to taking up aikido, though they eschewed those paths in favor of internal bodywork to seek the power of their teacher. Like Reuben today, they looked for solutions, but had the benefit of Ueshiba as a reference point, and so chose a different path to seek solutions based on that input.
Reuben Yap wrote:
For me something is Aikido if it:
a) Doesn't rely on force/strength
b) Gives you an option to not harm an opponent and just neutralization
The old guard in Hawaii don't speak of "pure" aikido either. But they do lament modern aikido's lack of attention and understanding of what's needed to develop the power that Ueshiba and Tohei used to lay low some very tough men and plant the seeds of the art here and beyond over half a century ago. Meyer Goo, for example, tells us that Morihei Ueshiba did not pin Meyer to the tatami using Kesa Gatami, Juji Gatame or Omoplata. Ueshiba simply used a single, relaxed hand, and Meyer felt essentially welded to the ground and could not move. Now, that's one sublime ippon, and meets Reuben's "a" and "b" criteria cited above.[/quote]