George S. Ledyard
There was a time when, if you had a dojo, you had to be able to handle yourself with anyone who came through the front door. Those days are long gone... probably for the better but it creates problems.
Often a given organization or teacher has standards that are really about passing on a certain physical form or style. As I have stated elsewhere, Aikido as an art, has developed a kind of ukemi which is designed to make their teacher's technique work. So, when you see even an excellent test, you are still seeing application of technique against attacks that are designed for that those techniques to work. This is fine and even necessary for testing. But a solid transmission of basic skills has very little to do with the ability to apply technique outside of the Aikido paradigm.
I wholeheartedly agree. If you watch judo exams, you will notice beautiful effortless throws with uke whose sole purpose is to make the throw look outstanding. Collusion at its finest! However, unless you watch a really mismatched pairing (e.g. Koga vs anybody
), it will look like tussling. In my opinion, aikido could use a little more regular "tussling". Following your lead (and others) we have been really focusing on ukewaza, lately. We joke that we are aiming for a 100% failure rate. Morale was a little low until one of us brought up the point that if both uke and nage are practicing "aikido" that means that one of you (uke) is achieving 100% success! Glass half full! It is humbling to get brought all the way back to a 6th kyu level, but we are slowly getting the techniques back and when we do get them back we know they are functional with resistance. Bringing it back to teaching/transmission, I wonder if anyone feels like it would be beneficial for higher dan grades to "test" their lower grades for functionality, and what this might look like? When my father was testing for his shodan in Hongwanji-style kodokan judo, in addition to demonstration throws (collusive), he had to throw his instructor three times (competition). This meant having to train at other dojos in the hopes of picking up a technique his instructor wouldn't be expecting. I think aikido would be well-served to adopt this mentality.