Why we don't know how to stand up and walk.
"Kamae" from the technical manual "Budo", Morihei Ueshiba 1938
Standing and walking - that's pretty basic. It's so basic that it's really the first thing you learn in most budo, or even in life - if anybody can remember back that far.
Like everybody else, I received basic instructions in how to stand when I started Aikido - point the front foot forward and the back foot out at an angle. Some places break that down into a more detailed description, but that's usually the gist of it.
Pretty easy right? Anybody can do it - which may be the problem. If anybody can do it, and you're doing essentially the same thing that you've always done...why are you spending all that time on the mat?
"Budo" is a pre-war technical manual published in 1938 by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. It was originally created for Prince Kaya Tsunenori, member of a collateral branch of the imperial family. Kayanomiya would eventually become Superintendant of the Army Toyama School - where Morihei Ueshiba would act as an instructor before the war.
"Budo" remains the largest and most organized collection of technique from the pre-war period, and an English edition ("Budo: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido"), translated by John Stevens, was published in 1991.
A separate edition, the "Takemusu Aikido Special Edition", translated by Sonoko Tanaka and Stanley A. Pranin, was published in 1999 ("Budo: Commentary on the 1938 Training Manual of Morihei Ueshiba"). This edition is composed of some excerpts from the Japanese text, along with a commentary by Morihiro Saito, in both English and Japanese.
Tales from Heike Monogatari
Sawamura Sojûrô V as Kiichi Hôgen (鬼一法眼)
from the play Kiichi Hôgen Sanryaku no Maki (鬼一 法眼 三略巻)
There's an interesting quotation that appears on page 40 of "Profiles of the Founder" (開祖の横顔), a collection of interviews with students of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba that was published in Japan in 2009 (it's still only available in Japanese, so far as I know).
The same quotation occurs numerous other places, but it happened to pop out at me when I read it this time. The quotation occurs in the interview with Morito Suganuma, who became an Uchi-deshi to the Founder in 1967, shortly before the Founder passed away in 1969. Suganuma came to Hawaii and visited Aikido of Hilo in September 2011.
I first heard this quotation from Seishiro Endo some years ago, but as I said above it appears in a number of places. Morihei Ueshiba said that this quotation was one of the secrets (極意 / Gokui) of Aikido. The text of the quotation below is as cited by Suganuma.
Who's doing Aikido, who isn't, and who decides.
Reg. No.2313434, June 28, 1991 - Registered Trademark "Aikikai"
Here's something that caught my eye from "Best Aikido, The Fundamentals" (Kisshomaru Ueshiba Doshu and Moriteru Ueshiba Hombu Dojo-cho), which was published in 1997 as 「規範合氣道基本編」 in Japanese:
Ｑ：Are there different schools of Aikido?
Ａ：To be sure, there are many systems that claim to be "such-and-such Aikido," even without really knowing what Aikido is. And there are some splinter groups that have been established by former students of the Founder, with a few even going so far as to introduce organized competition, something that is totally contrary to the spirit of Aikido. Regardless of how similar the techniques appear, if they are divorced from the spirit of the Founder it is not Aikido.
We do not like to think that there are separate schools of Aikido. If we draw too many distinctions between different interpretations of the techniques, the universal character of Aikido will be degraded.
What don't we know and why don't we know it...
"Takemusu Aiki" by Morihei Ueshiba, edited by Hideo Takahashi
When Sam Chin visited Hawaii last year he told us (I'm paraphrasing) that it's not so bad not to know - as long as you know that you don't know. That struck a certain cord with me - isn't this really the first part of the problem?
When I started in Aikido there was very little information available in English. What was available was, we know now, highly sanitized - here's a good example from the Aikido Journal website, and another one by Meik Skoss on the Koryu.com website. There were far fewer non-Japanese who could speak Japanese at that time, let alone read the original sources, and most of the Japanese in the public eye presented a more-or-less uniform representation of the history and particulars of Aikido.
Now, of course, there are hundreds of books out in English on the subject of Aikido - so what's the problem?