aikido w/o any of the trappings
Does aikido have to be practiced in an actual dojo setting to be transmitted properly?
Had an interesting experience recently. Met a small group of people practicing what I swear was aikido so went to talk to them. It was aikido - the instructor was a Nidan from Australia and has only been in the US for a couple of years. Their group practice in sweatpants and a judogi top, but that's just for durability. What I found interesting was that they were completely informal, had no intersest in ranks, tests, organization, etc. Absolutely no formailty, and the only bows were to each other as a group before and after class (everything else were handshakes), The instructor preferred to be called Pete, and felt more like a bunch of friends meeting for football in the park than an aikido "dojo". They (only about 5-6 people) just liked the art, the philisophy, and wanted to have fun doing it. They practice always in parks (grass=mat, no overhead for rent), and a tiny nominal fee for paperwork and flyers and the like. And they weren't flubbing what they did either - the senior student there had been practicing with the teacher since he'd been in the US and his techniques were crisp, clean, powerful. It was a refeshing way to practice aikido.
Has anyone had similar experiences?