It is always evident, there is a tipping point. It all started small, everything, you me, the population, knowledge, age, people the friends we knew.
And it will start when it gets too big. Breaking down, breaking apart. Everyone has their threshold where things becomes untenable and revert back to a more manageable level. It is the same with martial arts.
I’m sure direct disciples of O’sensei (which there are not many left) will attest to the prowess of O’sensei, and in our contemporary times, no one comes close to manifesting that power. Things gets broken down when it gets too big.
When we look at O’sensei’s old footage, Aikido then was simple, there wasn’t any fancy moves, nobody was asking if it will work against this stlye or that style, ‘what if this’ or ‘what if that’ It is simple and it worked.
Then as we progressed, techniques changed, variations emerge. schools got larger, people who cannot understand the true form and the originality of the first generation Aikido technique began to develop their own variations, effective enough to convince a large enough amount of people to open a school or two. Then these students of the second generation teachers also opened their own schools, many of which do not understand the technique themselves, and too came up with variations of the technique, by the time we reach the ‘4th release’, or the ’15th release’. It will no longer look like the original. Anyway, Aikido, was too a variation of old bujutsu fighting styles, majorly from Daitoryu-aikijujutsu.
Now, Aikido is big, a huge mass of people practising it, promoting it, at the same time killing it, in its original form. Surely the finger points back to me, as i too am a contemporary student and is far detached from the original form of Aikido. I’m not lamenting the eventual demise of the Aikido form in full fidelity and originality. I’m saying that the breaking apart is inevitable, and if i am not guilty of it, someone else will.
The only way for it to keep to it original form is to keep class small, once it gets too big, things gets vague. The teacher cannot transmit the true form to all the students, if the class gets too big, assistants is needed and assistants are, after all assistants, they too cannot fully comprehend the master’s true intent. only the master himself can. so what the assistant will teach is their interpretation of the master’s form. which is not the master’s form, hence contributing to the breakdown.
Aikido is still a relatively new art, some lineage is only about 3 or 4 generations apart, we need to study our teacher’s form diligently, our teachers must take time to painfully explain why they are doing what they are doing, we must be able to understand their explanation before we can come to the true essence of that movement, and appreciate it as it is.