Dojo: Wasabi Dojo
Location: Houston, TX
Join Date: Mar 2013
Re: Introduction + The missing Atemi
Well, let's see...
Q1: No real sparing, no real feedback.
A1: As I don't know which brand of aikido you're doing, I can't tell you if it's "on the way" or "is not going to happen at all." Someone else will have to enlighten you on that. In our little branch of it (Tomiki out from under the Sensei Karl Geis family/tract, whatever), we do "sparring" just like I used to do it in taekwondo & hapkido, but not like Muay Thai, and very much like judo randori. Controled encounter, rules of engagement, try to keep the speed down (speed causes more training injuries than it justifies IMO), and lots of laughing. Easy to learn in a laughter-filled environment. Note, I didn't say pain-free, just laughter filled. IMO it's good to take things out of kata and try to put them to work on a non-compliant uke, even if they are just gently trying to F-up your technique while trying to put theirs to work on you.
Q2: No real atemi. (Degraded Aikido)
A2: Striking is its own practice. Having been boxing trained, I can teach that, if someone wants to learn it, or the striking techniques of taekwondo/hapkido, which are quite effective as many a concrete block and wood board can attest, as well as some few cracked skulls and broken ribs, eh? But, it does take training time, and what I've found is that while an excellent reverse punch or palm heel or knifehand strike is a wonderful tool for your defensive tool kit, so is a very well-honed sense of kuzushi. And, training kuzushi doesn't hurt the practitioner as much as training good strikes, and seems to be just as effective.
Q3: The whole system works from the outside in, not from the inside out.(i.e. one need many years of practice in order to grasp the basics.
A3: That's just about everything, actually. Different styles have differing pedagogy, thus different relative "speeds" of imparting knowledge, as do individual instructors, and even the same instructors on different principles and/or techniques. What I found with my higher-level tkd/hkd training was that, as I advanced in rank, it stopped being about the new combo-strike grip&rip takedown with special effects, but more and more about moving out of the way and dealing with the bad guy from other angles, different positions, etc. Gee.... that's what aikido (ours anyway) starts out with. Down the road, we give them the appropriate strike, if they want to learn something hard, but most opt out and go for a grappling-style thing. I, personally, don't, since I enjoyed my striking time, but they, as is their option on their own path, do.
And finally, on the idea of "Aikido purists..." I don't know what one looks like or sounds like. Almost all of the high level aikido people I know have studied other things as well, and end up in aikido. I think that, rather than the other way, is the baseline.