Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
It reinforces the sense of belonging to a large organization and there is a strong sense for foreign aikidoists of pilgrimage, of visiting the 'motherhouse' of aikido: the place where it all began. In this case, Doshu is the embodiment of an ideal taught to them by their own shihan.
Hello Mr Kimpel,
In your late post you found this hard to understand and thought it might be a Japanese thing.
It might be, for, as I stated earlier, all my teachers have been direct students of O Sensei and the one exception was a direct student of Shioda Kanchou, who 'converted' to the Aikikai afterwards. But all of them spoke of the Hombu, and especially Kisshomaru Doshu, with great respect and I am sure that the seeds for my own sojourn here were planted by conversations with these teachers.
The decision to hold the IAF congresses in Tokyo was made partly to allow Japanese teachers living abroad to come to Japan and visit the Hombu. Since the congresses have been tied to a training seminar, visiting Japan has also become attractive for their students. In addition to the classes at the seminar, participants have unlimited training at the Hombu at no extra cost.
As I stated in the article, coming to the Hombu, meeting Doshu, seeing the memorabilia of O Sensei, does give one a sense that this is the heart of aikido. My thoughts and anxieties about charisma still remain, but I have heard from non-Japanese students that they were very happy to go and train at the Hombu. As I stated, it is rather like making a pilgrimage.
One other comment. I think the transition from prewar to postwar aikido diluted quality and this inevitably came about with the decision to make aikido an 'inclusive' art, rather than one to practise which you had to have an interview and be sponsored by two eminent persons. So it changed from being a private club, catering to an elite, and with imperialist trappings, to being an art available for everybody. And the 'ideology' changed to match.
I am not saying that this was a good or a bad thing. What I am saying is that if you make aikido a martial art available for everybody, then you inevitably broaden the spectrum of what constitutes 'good' aikido, because you have to cater for those who will add aikido training to their 'lifestyle', but who do not have the time and the means to train with the intensity of real 'uchi-deshi'.