Is Aikido Japanese? How many people seek Aikido because they believe it is? Because they cling to the mysterious, foreign, or exotic? Because they want to become samurai?
Will we fail to find harmony with our partner if we shake hands rather than bow?
Will we fail to coordinate mind and body if do not wear a hakama? How about if we do not fold our senior’s hakama?
Will we fail to harmonize our own spirit with that of the universe if we do not perform Shinto rituals to begin and end our practice? Are they less Shinto if we dilute them or attribute alternative meanings?
Will we fail to find enlightenment if we do not submit to an instructor in a cultish way?
Is Aikido really for everyone, a gift to the world? Or perhaps only to those who can afford shopping from the Bu Jin line?
Is Aikido actually a martial art? Is it just a dance? Is it something like a paired t’ai chi form? Is there a definitive answer? Does it actually matter?
Have you seen a senior nage frustrated with a newcomer uke because the technique does not work? Because uke is not moving “right?”
Have you practiced different Aikido styles? Visited different schools? Have you learned from each that everything you knew from another is wrong?
Were O’Sensei’s teachers incensed by his own nonconformity?
How many practitioners of the “Art of Peace” are actually hypocrites in their practice both on and off the mats?
How many times in history have we seen a great man or woman cause a significant ripple in society and time, only to have the meaning lost, misinterpreted by lesser men who failed to grasp the essence or the entirety of the original message? How many people have been fortunate enough to grasp even an aspect of such a teaching, only then to declare that this aspect is the whole? How many fractures and schisms have occurred over time as a result? Reformations? Counter-Reformations?
How many times have we seen heresy declared and excommunication performed for challenging “official” interpretations declared to be dogma or doctrine by lesser men?
Aikido is not an ancient art; O’Sensei died only in 1969. His students, his students’ students, and their students, have been fighting among themselves ever since over interpretations of teachings right through the claiming of territory around the world, forming factions, breaking from lineage, forming independent organizations, and so forth. How ironic…
Perhaps Gnostic Aikido is the correct path…