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Old 05-12-2012, 10:40 AM   #29
Keith Larman
Dojo: AIA, Los Angeles, CA
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,604
United_States
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Come over to the dark side, we have cookies...

I'm not ranked in Aikikai. That limits me to some extent, I'm sure, and I would imagine that also denigrates me in some peoples' eyes. That's okay with me. When I was looking for training in Aikido near where I was I went where people I trusted said I should go. I found stuff I liked and I stayed. I continue to study and I also go outside the box a lot of play with really neat people who do really neat stuff outside the box as well. So I'm not terribly concerned about these sorts of issues. And I think there are more and more people like me, people who go to whomever we can that we hear/find/are told are good. I remember the great aikiweb seminar up in Seattle a few years ago. Mr. Ledyard doing his aikido. Aaron Clark doing his art which in my eyes combined fantastically rich aiki with judo and everything else. And of course Mr. Threadgill and his travelling budo magic and comedy act. Spectacular. Then local seminars Gary has set up with Mike Sigman and Dan Harden doing their things way outside the box (but maybe really should have been deeply in the box?). But I'm rambling...

The world is changing. I think a lot of people posting have some very good points. There are more high quality people out there than ever coming from what are increasingly diverse backgrounds. And I mean this with utmost respect to those within Aikikai, but to me Aikikai represents the mainstream but also in some sense or another the "generic". I do *not* mean the training is any less valuable. But I think as any organization gets larger it faces unique challenges and as such you end up with an organization that is either rather hands-off just kind of "pointing the direction" or a highly controlling group that will tend to stifle variation. To their credit they have gone with the former IMO, but that brings drawbacks as well.

So I just shrug. I don't worry about titles like shihan as even in our small organization we've had issues with how things were done and then the politics of personalities clashing. So I smile, train more, hope for more seminars from interesting people, and keep training. I find that increasingly my relationship with my affiliation becomes, well, complicated. I take pride in part of it. But I also find it less of "my identity" and rather just my comfortable home for when I'm not out challenging my comfort level somewhere else. The world of Aikido has grown huge, but paradoxically enough it is now a very small place due to the internet, communications, and awareness and openness of some generous souls.

Okay, stream of consciousness post complete.

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