Kieun Kim wrote:
Does aikido have to be practiced in an actual dojo setting to be transmitted properly?
In a word I'd say no. But then it depends on what one is seeking to get from training Aikido. If one is seeking/needing to bow in front of a shomen and feel like he's Japanese back in Edo etc. etc. etc. then I'd say dojoless, trappingless training is not a good idea.
Personally though, I love outdoor, gi-less, mat-less - if your ukemi doesn't work on sand/grass don't do it - type training.
I think I may have even introduced a Shodokan 8th Dan to the concept recently (beach bokken training in shorts and t-shirt), and he fit right in like everyone else. But then we tend to ascribe to the view that Aikido can be practiced as effectively anywhere, not necessarily in a dojo.
To me it brings a bit more "realness" to the training. Not that the dojo is not "real", but one realises that in everyday living (at least here) there are no mats, shomens, belt orders, folks don't bow to you and you don't walk around in gis.
At a time when our dojo was financially challenged, we actually trained in parks regularly to maintain the crispness of our form until we could afford another place to put down mats and train. From my experience though, this sort of training is only encouraged by members who are "hopeless lifers" and don't ever need an excuse to train. Its the sort that travel everywhere with a gi and white belt in their bag, as the attraction is to Aikido training and nothing else really. Like Peter said - maybe they just wanted to train.
Just my thoughts.