Group versus Individual
This thread grew out of the Acceptance thread in the Anonymous section.
Most of us join Aikido for perfectly valid selfish reasons - we want to learn self defense, get more fit, get out of the house, meet new friends and interesting people, have a pajama fetish, etc.
As we continue to train the reasons may or may not evolve but in the end it comes down to the stated goal of Budo which is self development.
But then comes trouble. Traditionally part of that self development requires letting go of the self. A contradiction if I ever heard of one. However, this does not mean no longer trying to be physically and technically the best you can be but it does mean getting past the idea of what I want in the context of the Aikido training at any one point in time.
The question is simply How much is a group expected to conform to my particular needs?
A group if it expects to survive must accommodate its members and make some allowance for new members - that is a given. I do believe though that individual members must strive to conform to the group not so much to become blank eyed clones but because Aikido is intrinsically a group activity. The members of the group act in concert to raise the bar for all concerned without holding individuals back.
The Shodokan Aikido training method involves a fairly rigorous warm-up, followed by drills and technique sections interspersed by drills. There is a definite rhythm to the training which can be totally disrupted by individual action. My view is that if there is a reason that you would disrupt this rhythm one should either not come or leave early. Individual training can be done during free practice.
For the same reason people considering to join a group should consider firstly if they can do (eventually) whats being done rather than can the group accommodate them.