Re: Poll: How important has experiencing other martial arts been for you in understanding aikido more deeply?
I voted "not very important".
I have studied Shotokan Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Ju Jitsu (grappling) and Aikido. How important has experiencing other martial arts been for understanding aikido? Well, really, none!!! I have an understanding of how kicks and punches come and what a grappler would like to do if he takes you to the ground, or what a ju jitsu person looks for when they're looking for an armbar, choke, etc... As uke I can probably kick & punch better than your regular "John Doe". But, as far as understanding and bettering my aikido, well --- not really.
As a matter of fact, my students who have cross trained or come from other martial arts have habits that aren't aiki in nature and depending on how long they've been exposed to those other martial arts could take a long time to un-imprint (I know there is a better word for this). Sometimes it is counter productive, especially when they start saying: in "so and so martial art" we do this...... It seems to get in their way instead of help.
I think that cross training is fine. But when you are in aikido, do aikido, when you are in tae kwon do, do tae kwon do. Cross train - don't get cross confused. I think that it is more important to get a solid grounding in basics before branching out to other martial arts. In my opinion, a good grounding in basics probably takes a person to about a sandan level. If you want something else at that point, then I would say it is OK to search out another martial art to supplement aikido. Starting out in a "bunch" of martial arts as a beginner, in my opinion, only serves to confuse a person, not making the other martial art better.
Remember, this is only MY opinion as through MY experiences. Shotokan since I was 15 yrs old to my 20's, Tae Kwon DO in my 20's, Ju Jitsu in my 30's, Aikido in my 30's & 40's. Aikido is by far the most successful for ME.