David Valadez wrote:
What is mandatory for Aikido? What is it that we simply cannot do without? What thing or aspect, if it is absent, forces us to be unable to say, "We do Aikido?"
A good question. For myself, I still haven't figured out what Aikido actually is. I've been to seminars with famous masters, I've lived and trained in Japan, I've read a lot of books about it, I've read a lot of posts on here and other forums, I've read blogs and hundreds of other web pages, I teach it in my own class, but I still can't claim to understand it.
The one thing that is most missing to me, is the spiritual aspect. I don't mean the "new age" stuff that sczecpan refers too, I mean the spiritual aspect that Kaiso spent hours and hours studying. He formulated this art by mixing aikijitsu with Omotokyo teachings, if we are not working on the spiritual side ourselves, then as others have said above, shouldn't we call what we do something else, because it surely can't be the same?
I've just finished reading a book by Kanshu Sunadomari - Enlightenment through Aikido. It's only a small paperback, but has taken me over 4 months to read, and I still haven't absorbed half of it. In it he does say though that if we only practice form, we will eventually hit a point that we will never progress past. I think that I agree with this, if we are not prepared to explore the spiritual side of the art, it minimizes the perspective with which we view Aikido, and indeed may mean that we are not in fact practicing Aikido.
The difficult thing is finding someone who does understand all this, and who is able to communicate it. There have been a few other books written, which I have read a few times, but reading doesn't help, my understanding is still extremely limited. The glimmer of hope is that if I keep looking into it, one day something may click into place.