Re: Article: Transmission in Aikido, Part II by George S. Ledyard
Thanks for your replies everyone, especially Peter Goldsbury for taking the time for such a deep analysis of the way in which the whole conception of the transmission has changed.
Szcepan, as usual you are contrary, especially so in this case as you are on record in dozens of posts saying that everyone else's Aikido is just wishful thinking, New Age fantasy or some such... then you turn around and say there's no problem with the transmission. Can you say "disingenuous"? Sure... I knew you could.
Anyway, I don't have a problem with those who have consciously decided to settle for "aikido-lite". They know they aren't trying to get to the top level, open a dojo, teach, etc.
Where I do have a problem is with the fact that there are folks all over teh United States (the World?) who are doing their level best to master this art. They are putting in the time, sacrificing their bodies, making the trade offs with their partners, spending every dime of their disposable income on trying to be the best that they can be in this art. If you ask them, they will tell you that they don't want Aikido-lite, they want the whole thing, no matter how hard that might be.
When those who have been fortunate enough to have had training along the lines of what Peter describes in the "elite" model begin to assume responsibility for the transmission of the art I think it is their responsibility to "deliver the goods" so to speak. Our teachers were responsibile for the phenomenal growth of Aikido from a number of uchi deshi whom you could count usin your fingers to a world wide art with hundreds of thousands of practitioners. Most of them have managed to create a small group of students whom they personally trained in whom they ostensibly have placed their confidence that they can carry on their teachings adequately into the next generation.
But the generation into which we are stepping as teachers is completely different than the one our own teachers taught in. Our teachers came to America, Britain, Italy, France, Gremany, wherever hwne there were virtually no students of Aikido. They brought the art into an Aikido wilderness, started their dojos, watched as their own students went out and started schools and in turn created their own students.
In the old days you had a small group of Japanese Shihan (Yamada, Kanai, A. Tohei, Chiba, Saotome, Hirada, Imaizumi, etc.) who presided over the training of a few hundred students. That few hundred has grown to forty thousand or so in the States. The organizations which grew up to give some structure to this mass of Aikido aspirations have proven inadequate to the task of passing on the deep and vast experience of the students of the Founder to the larger community. Yet, I do see that the skill is there. I see a secind generation of instructors coming into theor own who are acheiving a really high level of skill. Thier training hasn't become stultified. They are developing and changing even though they have hit the top levels of rank and recognition.
So the question is how do we structure a system that does a better job of delivering a wider, deeper Aikdio to a much wider group than was ever envisioned at the beginning of the art. There are no models for this within Aikido as no one who has gone before has had to do it.
What I see is that we have the teachers who have the knowledge and teaching skill and we have thousands of willing and eager students who have not decided that second best is good enough. It is our mission to bring these folks together so that that art of Aikido does not degenerate into something that can't recover from the loss of knowledge and experience over several generations of incomplete transmission. To do this we, as instructors, will have to work together rather than compete with each other. We need to support each other and collectively work out the best way to pass on our experience to the next generation.
It's not just passing on some set of knowledge and technique. It's more about passing on a set of principles and a way of training oneself so that one can keep developing long after one has left ones teacher. People need to be given permission to add their experience to the art, not just pass on teachnique mechanically. Then Aikido can grow in a healthy manner, then it can keep pace with its own spread to "the masses" without becoming a watered down imitation of itself.