Re: The Essence of Training
Most of us do not commit the appropriate length of time, intensity of study, or committment to train that is required to become a professional aikido ka. If I reasoned the same argument for my non-professional status as a football player, accountant, or musician most of us would acknowledge that argument as valid.
This is purple pen stuff. Sometimes there are things you do in life that don't earn credit for trying real hard; they aren't fair; and sometimes you are not very good at doing them. I used to work with athletics and I got to see the work ethics of college-grade athletes. They blew me away. Professional athletes do things daily that would make me cry. We train 1 or 3 times a week in aikido and fall over patting ourselves on the back for our "hard" training. We don't even rate professional scales... Look at what MMA does... that's a training schedule.
I am committed to keeping aikido part of my life. I have a family and career, both that precede aikido in priority. However, Aikido is highly prioritized and positioned in my life. I understand the sacrifice my prioritization requires. Some day I hope to change my priorites as my life allows; until then I keep aikido in as much of my life as I can.
However, my aikido is still prioritized highly enough that my instructors and those people with whom I associate should notice progress in my training. I rely on them to push me and keep me advancing my aikido education; I appreciate their criticism even when it is harsh. This is why I believe in testing and social interaction with peers in aikido.
The kind of committment necessary to be a professional is significant. I do not think we should begrudge that fact because we want to call ourselves martial artists and wear a black belt. Much of what we do in aikido is about artificially building ourselves up within a structured environment. Much of Ledyard's Sensei's post deflates that impression. It's not untrue, but it's the ugly lights at the end of the night that keep up from going home with a mistake.