Re: Poll: Do you think your aikido organization would survive without its chief instructor(s)?
First, I'm assuming that by "Chief Instructor(s)", you are referring to the folks that started the organizations, like for example, Yamada Sensei in the USAF East, Saotome Sensei in the ASU, or Youn Sensei in the KAF. Second, I'm assuming that when you say "without" that the Chief Instructor(s) have either passed on or have retired, but have not left the organization under less than honorable circumstances (like say, being arrested and sentenced to 8 yrs for statutory rape).
Given these assumptions, I can point to two prime examples of organizations surviving without their chief instructors. First and perhaps best so far is the American Aikido Association. After, Toyota Sensei's unfortunate death (God rest his soul), the technical direction has fallen onto the shoulders of Andrew Sato Sensei (6th Dan) who I might add seems to be doing an excellent job. True, Toyota Sensei's widow is still involved in the administration of the AAA, and Toyota Sensei's son is training to eventually fulfill the top spot of the organization. Will this cause trouble for the AAA? Perhaps. I've only met Sato Sensei, and the Toyota Family on a limited number of occasions, and I am not a member of the AAA, but based on my limited impression of all three of them, I think they'll be alright. They all seem to be level-headed, well-grounded people.
Second example, is the Iwama organization. Now here is an interesting case. Some might say the organization died with Saito Sensei and the new Iwama Ryu Aikido organization which split recently from the Aikikai is not a continuation of Saito Sensei's organization, but I beg to differ. Whatever the reasons for Saito Jr's split from the Aikikai, his decision actually continues Saito Sensei's organization. Here's the reasoning. Iwama dojo Dan certificates were issued by Aikikai Hombu, however, the Aiki Ken and Jo certifications were not, and were unique to Iwama. Isoyama Sensei's installation as the Dojocho of the Iwama Dojo ensures that quality Aikido instruction will take place and the Aikido tradition will continue, but it does not ensure the Saito tradition will continue. While I'm pretty confident (but not a 100% sure) that Saito Jr was offered some type of position in the organization that was going to replace his fathers administration at the Iwama dojo, there probably was no guarantee that things would remain the same. Saito Sensei's Dream would not be the same. Now, don't misunderstand me. I honestly think Isoyama Sensei is the right man for the job, imminently qualified to run the Iwama dojo and if I were Doshu and had a 8th Dan willing to assume the mantel, I'd take him over a 5th or 6th Dan any day. All I'm saying is that Saito Jr's decision to split, actually ensures the continuation of his father's methodology of instruction and Aikido tradition.
So, can organizations survive without their chief instructor(s)? Most definitely, will they change? Most assuredly.