Re: Defining Aikido
Aikido practitioners fall into two categories: archivists and innovators. Archivists seek to preserve the form of the art at a given point in time and hence maintain the structure and form of Aikido principles and techniques that reflect the the era of their interest. Innovators are looking to broaden the scope of Aikido beyond the boundaries of their schooling and so are willing to introduce new concepts and ideas into the body of Aikido knowledge.
It's interesting that there exists tension between the two camps. Adherents of either view fail to see the contributions of their opposites are necessary for the preservation of Aikido as a living evolving martial art.
Archivists insure that the history of the art is maintained and provide a continuity to Aikido's growth and evolution. It is through the archivists careful preservation of form and function that a student is able to trace the history of Aikido back to it's beginning without having to rely on books or other media. The whole history of Aikido is present 'in the flesh' for anyone to see and/or experience.
Innovators strike out on paths previously unmapped by their teachers. They seek to expand the envelope and broaden Aikido's horizons. Innovators are essential if the art is not to wither and eventually die out.
The cycle is never ending; archivists spawn innovators who in turn spawn archivists of their own who in turn spawn other innovators...
Archivists provide the raw material for growth, innovators process the raw material and push the art onward.
From The Art Of Peace by John Stevens:
'The techniques of the Way of Peace change constantly; every encounter is unique, and the appropriate response should emerge naturally. Today's techniques will be different tomorrow. Do not get caught up in the form and appearance of a challenge. The Art of Peace has no form -- it is the study of the spirit.'