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Old 03-23-2007, 03:58 PM   #13
L. Camejo
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Dojo: Ontario Martial Arts
Location: Mississauga, Ontario
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,423
Re: George Ledyard on the Future of Aikido

Interesting article. I can't help but think that back in the day Tomiki Sensei may have foreseen this sort of situation developing, hence his work in trying to bring instruction at the Kobukan/Aikikai moreso towards the randori/shiai paradigm to have some method of objective measurement. But that is a "what if" that never happened and never will.

I'd have to differ somewhat on the author's point that this loss in quality is as a result of organizational expansion. I think if one plans expansion properly with good solid, structured training mechanisms to get new instructors to achieve all requirements of the art (in breadth and depth) then quality loss will be minimized. The issue the author is speaking about is not experienced in certain organizations outside of the Aikikai and is also not endemic to all Aikikai sub groups. The skills are there among those who have instructors who are either very capable teachers (i.e. the ability to impart knowledeg and information) or have a highly developed teaching method that is designed to develop proficiency in all the important areas of the art.

Regarding depth and numbers I wonder though how many people would actually continue to practice Aikido if the bar was raised so to speak to really teach the depth of the art. I think the numbers of those training (especially for recereation) would dramatically decrease. This does not only apply to Aikido, Tai Chi Chuan is a great example of an art that is also having a crisis like what we see on Aikiweb regarding Aikido. I've met quite a few practitioners of that art who say the same things I hear on Aikiweb among those who doubt their training methods or skills. They also believe that much of it is watered down and is more of an exercise than a martial art. I also know there is a very small group of Tai Chi Chaun practitioners who are plumbing the depth of the training, but they have put in the time, mind and effort to do so. Most people won't. I'm wondering if mass popularity and depth of knowledge are realistically congruent goals on a global scale in this regard. Imho those who get into the depth of the training have to put in the hard hours, thoughtful practice and honest self evaluation to get there. Most people are not willing to do this.

On another point, I am wondering however if the few screaming voices we hear in online forums regarding a general lack of knowledge in Aikido is truly representative of the feeling towards training in the real world at large. From people I have met and trained with, it seems like the online "reality" may be illusory. It would be good to know what percent of training Aikidoka actually engage in online forums and from what countries. The issue may not be as endemic as some may tend to believe. Or alternatively I may just be lucky to be around Aikidoka who have less issues with their martial skills.

Regarding whether the "'internal" skills of Ueshiba M. and Takeda S. are being transmitted by a few outside of the art remains to be seen imho. There is no doubt that the CMA have some very good methods of training internal skills and power but it is yet to be seen that the "inability to be pushed over" or other similar elements are able to make one manifest the martial genius of Takeda or Ueshiba in modern, recreational Aikidoka.

I've found that all the Aikidoka I know (and MA-ists in general) who doubt their "fighting" abilities are constantly seeking a new magic pill to fix the ills of their lack of training. A few years ago on online forums Aikidoka thought that without atemi you could not have "fight worthy" Aikido, then more recently you had to train in Daito Ryu to truly understand Aikido's martial applications, now I am hearingf that it is the internal skills that Ueshiba M. had that are lacking. Sadly some Aiki fools run after each and every "magic elixir" salesman to get a quick fix to what Ueshiba and his counterparts learnt through hard, dedicated, conscientious study (not just showing up at the dojo to "work out") with people who were capable of exhibiting the skills that they wanted to learn. It remains quite interesting to me that people who do not have issue with their technical repertoire have nothing to do with the recent discussions on "internal skills" that have taken the centre of so many Aikidoka online. When folks have gotten the "internal skills" and still have poor waza they will look for another magic pill.

The bottom line is that the majority of Aikidoka have no objective idea what they are doing because they have no objective means of verifying and judging what they are doing. This is why it is so easy to move them with alternative ideas. Until this is addressed there will always be questions, even if we are overflowing with ki/chi or are totally independent of any organization in our attempt to find the "true" path. We are responsible for what we achieve or don't achieve.


--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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