Re: Budo Is Not About Techniques
For the moment, I will strip out the assumption that we are doing budo when we practice aikido. Some of us are, some of us are not. Whatever.- it's maybe a complication that is not needed here.
There is a contingent of aikido people who strongly favor the identification of aikido as a deduction of kata. Heck, most of our ranking is based upon this perspective. Aiki itself being somewhat nebulous for some people, this perspective gives practitioners some foundation to claim they are doing aiki(do). Something like, "if technique A is aikido and technique B is aikido, and I can perform both techniques, then I am doing aikido." I think this perspective has trouble when the discussion elevates beyond what is defined as aikido because you cannot deduce what doesn't exist. It also has difficulty if you challenge, or find fault with, the base assumptions (i.e. technique A is aikido).
The truth of the matter is most of us don't practice at a level where our technique has aiki and by doing the technique we are "doing aiki(do)." Without aiki in the technique, this perspective is false anyway. With exception to some high-level dojos who have individuals using aiki, most of us just don't have that kind of pressure in our training. We've probably all experienced the failed technique that we justified as bad uke, or off-day, or whatever; maybe if we were honest we recognized that it was simply because our technique did not have aiki. This is not to diminish the effectiveness of good jujutsu, which we sometimes use to mask bad aiki; rather, just to point out that much of our movement is not aiki, therefore not aiki(do).
Aikido is hard. I think critically understanding that every time we move we are not one with the universe is required to appreciate the difficulty of what we do. I also think understanding that kata is on the path to training and not the path itself is required to understand how to craft a path of training that achieves a desired outcome. Sometimes, training to be successful is not as attractive as changing the metrics of success.