Re: Why bother keeping Aikido 'pure'?
All of this stuff is percentages. Improving your physical fitness lifts you above number of potential adversaries. Improving your technical skill lifts you above some number of potential adversaries. Improving your ability to project your relative abilities places you above some number of potential adversaries. Improving your proficiency using weapons (and carrying them) lifts you above some number of potential adversaries. Ultimately, (from a "fighting" perspective) we are working to elevate our entire collection of advantages above the largest percentage of potential adversaries. Aikido is just one set of skills among a larger collection.
Fidelity to a system means that you allow the training methodology to run its course. One of the odd things about O Sensei's early teaching is that he wold often cut students loose. He would teach a student for a period of time, then say, "Okay, you've got it. Bye. Stay in touch." Stepping back to O Sensei's relationship with Takeda, it seems that he would have intense periods of training followed by lapses, where O Sensei presumably continued to train. It does give the impression that his aiki instruction was a limited instruction followed by commitment to training.
First, I think we become distracted with other arts. Not that this is a bad thing because we want to be able to work with other groups and I believe a working knowledge of those groups is important. It is very difficult to work with people who train in other arts - aikido is not judo (for example). Give credit where credit is due and don't assume our cross-training partner is doing anything but playing nice with our aikido rules. We tease one of our judo players because I swear if you go to South America, he is what's in the cage that wrestles all-comers in the seedy bar.
Second, I think our current methodology is having difficulty showing results. I think part of problem one is that our current methodology does not produce the results we want within the time frame we want. I think arguing whether its the process or the expectations that are at fault is another thread. In either case, there is a lure of success through other arts that many creates a sense of insecurity of aikido's success as a martial education.
As a bit o' heresay... In Phi's clip, Ikeda sensei is stronger than his partners... stronger through ki/aiki. It may not be the "strength" that we typically consider, but it is a skill that is elevating sensei above his partners... That is the strength sensei trains, not the kind that looks good on the beach.