Re: Change In The Martial Arts
To combine Tarik and Katherine's comments, I see this question as one of economics:
If we want to increase consumption, we have to decrease barriers to consumption. One of those barriers is socio-political perspective. One of those barriers is ability. I would also throw in cost to round out my top three. We also need to define our metric of success. Quality? Effectiveness? participation? Spiritual transformation? My biggest observation about the expansion of aikido is that I do not believe the art has a success metric. Oneness with the universe is not easily quantified.
Compare that to Judo, which is one of the most played sports in the world. Sure, Judo has a philosophy, but Kano positioned judo as a sport and it has thrived. Largely, Judo has been able to expand without making concessions to the extent we see in Aikido. Taking a larger perspective, I don't think it unfair to claim that many of the popular arts made concessions to gain market and persevere. In being critical of aikido, I would argue that we probably over-conceded to gain our share and are now in a correction phase as we try to clarify our philosophy, justify our effectiveness and solicit the athletes and martials artists necessary to drive the quality of the art.
Keeping on my econ hat, I would advocate that we are not a koryu, we are not a combat system, we are not a sport and we are not a religion. Aiki had a niche - he could put aiki into traditional arts, he could put aiki into fighting systems, he could put aiki into sport, and he could put aiki into [his] religion. O Sensei was attractive to a wide spectrum of practitioners because he could put aiki into a variety of applications.
In closing, say what you want about the Paul Mitchell people, but you can also watch them on ESPN 12. Check out those compromising Judo people next Olympics. Maybe we need acrylic weapons...