I don't think it is accurate to describe Aikido as a "hodgepodge system," because I don't believe it is fair to look at Aikido as a
system. It is a set of systems that were founded, commissioned, or inspired by Osensei at various points during and after his life. The only thing that really binds differing styles of Aikido together is a shared awe of Osensei and a shared lack of understanding of what he actually wanted Aikido to do for the practitioner and the world.
The fact that this is the information age is honestly the real problem - it is too easy for people working in one Aikido system to communicate with people in other systems, and thus have a birds-eye view of the chaos.
Chris Hein wrote:
Aikido- How can we make it clear.
1. Create a clear context as to what it is we are training for. What kind of martial engagement are we preparing for? When training is complete will we know how to sword fight, or wrestle, of drive a fighter jet? We need clear areas that we are going to be working within. Simply saying you are learning to "fight" or "not fight" is not a suitable answer.
2. Clear definitions of what students should expect to get from our training. Saying things like, " you will gain the power of Aiki" and then only be able to give an intangible answer as to what Aiki is, isn't cutting it. Or saying that Aikido will keep you "fit" when a good number of Aikido teachers are very out of shape, at an early age isn't being honest about what we are doing.
3. Accountability. Can we do what we say we can do, or at the very least, show the methods we are using that will ideally achieve what it is we are attempting to do. We must hold our selves highly accountable. Without this we are all just wearing old style clothes and dancing about (which actually might be perfectly acceptable, but if it is that should be made clear in 1. and 2.)
I found this three-step program to clarify Aikido interesting, because I asked myself whether these were present in koryu as I understand those systems.
While accountability certainly was - there were duels and dojo breaking - clear context and clear definitions certainly were not; both what a trainee learned and in what domain it was meant to be applied were carefully modulated according to the student's level of experience. A young man might be sent to a dojo to become a good swordsman only to find, ten years later, that he was learning a generalized strategy for getting things done in a stifling, entrenched bureaucracy.
I think it is interesting to note this stuff, because Aikido is a descendant of that educational culture. These issues were never intended to be observed from the perspective that you get with Wikipedia, Aikido Journal, and years of archived posts on this and other forums at your fingertips.
It may be time to work these issues out with some framework or another. But whenever I think about this, I always feel like we risk losing something important that we don't pay much attention to, for example the slow and imperceptible changes and improvements that we get just by going to the dojo every day and grappling with the things we can't yet do, and don't yet understand, not the least of which are WHAT we are trying to do with this stuff and how we can get there for ourselves.