Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe
I'm just going by my own experience...... There are still good dojo's around but ya have to use your gut instinct to find out which.....
What I am saying is we used to practice with intent (My students still do, Well they did when we had a dojo.....).
We had the bruises and sprains to prove it.....Of course we took care not to damage too severely as this meant you couldn't practice, but we were quite rough..... (Or those who liked to practice this way).
Black belt was something you got (as I thought then) after a long time practising but with ability, which also meant something...... Other than something to hold your dogi together......
Nowadays they are just handed out as some sort of prize if you just attend and achieve so many hours??.....
Maybe I am just a dinosaur I don't know..... What I do know is that is has stood me in good stead over the years and has worked as a self defence method, but that's all down to the way one practises....
If you want aikido as a health system then that's ok so long as you don't expect it to work for "self defence".
I say train hard while you are young and reap the benefits later on.... and when you get to the stage where training hard is not an option anymore because of age .......then "soft" is ok....
Here again, I agree with you. Many people will think that the old school way of thinking is wrong, but look where it has led Aikido. Nowadays, I see people have really bad test and still pass either because they have the hours or they may be someone's favorite student or uchi deschi. I once knew an Instructor who gotten spoken to about the poor performance of his students test. But that was after
they had been passed! I have been to so many seminars where there are yudansha who have weak attacks, don't throw atemi and never take the balance. Then they think that I am resisting because they can't do the technique. I believe that in the old days, the training was more serious and Aikido was being taught and learned as a serious Martial Art.