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An Ahistorical Understanding of Aikido’s Historical Change

There is a history to Aikido. It is an institutional one, a structural one, an epistemic one, a cultural one. It is a history that explains how contemporary Aikido has become what it has become. And, it is a history that notes that Aikido has indeed changed over the decades.

From a historical point of view, there is really no need to be arguing over what Aikido is and/or is not from contemporary standards. This is because Aikido's history is one of Aikido's becoming. Meaning, Aikido has been and still is in this state of becoming, and it is this becoming that has confounded all attempts to define it once and for all.

What Aikido is today lacks any kind of authority for what it is not and/or for what it should be de facto. This is because contemporary Aikido simply does not carry the weight of authenticity through antiquity. Contemporary Aikido is nothing but a fabrication that is still being fabricated. To use today's standards to support the apologetic "That is not Aikido"

lacks all historical reference and it lacks historiographical self-reflexivity. Such a sentiment only works to legitimate the current status quo: This moving from what the art once was to what it is becoming.

To be sure, Aikido history, like all history, is a complicated thing. However, there is a work-around - an ahistorical one. It starts by noting two incongruent facts readily available to both the authentic historian and to the inauthentic historian: One the one hand, we have the fact that Osensei is well known to have been able to practice his art against contesting opponents within live environments. On the other hand, we have the demonstrable and repeatable fact that today most Aikidoka, particularly those whose Aikido practice consists overwhelmingly, or solely, of doing forms, cannot practice their art against contesting opponents within live environments. It begs to reason then that the latter do not have the same practice as the former, and the former in all likelihood did something more than just the repetition of forms. This in turn begs the question: Is “Aikido” what the Founder did, or is “Aikido” what the masses are doing now?

For me, what the masses are doing now is not Aikido.


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