Re: The "Power" of Aikido
Ross - I used the word "pacifism" as a bit of hyperbole - but, a vitiated martial art is not budo - that's my real point. Yes, some aikido practitioners - without internal training - or any experience in other martial arts - can be quite formidable. But many people have trained for decades and have not achieved the ability to fight of someone with six months of BJJ training. That's not good.
And I have seen nothing whatsoever to indicate that this is outweighed by a moral standard of behavior in the aikidoka superior to the BJJ pracitioner, muay thai fighter, or whatever.
I do think that the focus on conflict resolution coupled with real martial ability offers a moral challenge beyond compare. Nishio Shoji is my favorite example of this. To the degree that current aikido doesn't offer a real moral challenge in helping create individuals who approach Ueshiba's level - or are at least, studying the same skill set - I find lacking. [Daito-ryu offers another dilemma, I believe, in losing most students in details of form and withholding explicit training in aiki for a long time - or never. something that is explicitly stated as being done by some of the leading teachers].
In my experience in Japan, I found the martial arts that deviated most from combative effectiveness (or practice within rules, among the martial sports) were often filled with the most sanctimonious, untrustworthy individuals. The most sterling characters I met in Japan were some of the koryu teachers, judoka and kick boxers.
I've written at length on this before in Dueling with Osensei - but I truly wonder if an explicit focus on the conflict resolution model in aikido coupled with a vitiated martial practice makes the higher goals of aikido unattainable.