John, let me give you a bit of a history lesson.
Ueshiba Sensei (O'Sensei) "discovered" Aikido from his martial arts studies using the jujutsu techniques and swordfighting skills of his training. Professor Kano developed Judo as a sport by blending numerous styles of jujutsu together and taking out many of the "damaging" techniques of those styles. Mitsugo Maeda developed Brazilian Jujitsu from Kodokan Judo and Sumo, which were the only two arts he trained in. He never actually trained in jujutsu as an art, other than what was included in Judo.
Tohei Sensei, was chief instructor at the Aikikai while O'Sensei was there and training. After many years together, Tohei broke away from the Aikikai to concentrate on the "internal" elements of Aikido, and began the practice of "Shin Shin Toitsu" Aikido. No one had better technique at the Aikikai than Tohei.
While teaching and conducting demonstrations, O'Sensei used Sogunuma Sensei as his uke (partner) to demonstrate techniques. Sogunuma trained my training partner.
When Tohei established his Aikido dojo, he took in a number of "deshis" (live in students), one of whom was Toyoda Sensei, who eventually became my teacher and good friend, who established the Aikido Association of America.
Now, that being said... all of my Aikido knowledge is 4th generation,(from both directions) which is about as close as anyone can get now to the founder since Ueshiba Kisshimaru is now dead.
When I began studying Aikido, I had already studied martial arts for 22 years... so I had some basis of comparison. I already had black belts in karate, judo, and jujutsu, and teaching licenses in jujutsu... so I had a frame of reference to judge the veracity of techniques against an "existing standard". It wasn't just "do this and it works like this"... I already had 22 years of hard core training "to resist" the techniques of Aikido.
If I'm an "outspoken ally" of Eyrie, it has a basis of understanding exactly what he's talking about and only needing to disagree with him when he's wrong. I don't need to go find a book to find an opinion, I had 3rd generation instruction, and my 4th generation understanding of Aikido guides me.
I learned early on in my martial arts training to seek out the best teachers, because at the time, there weren't too many martial arts schools out there. I've travelled for hours to train for an hour, and then drive back just to train with somebody that "knew something". I slept on dojo floors, people's couches, and in the seat of the car "seeking information".
While a lot of these internet wizards might talk a good game, I'm a student of masters... and not those that just organized a group and gave themselves a title, but legitimate, skilled, martial arts experts. On labor day, I'll be starting my 46th year of training, bad hips, torn rotator cuffs, twice broken ankle and all.
These guys on the FA boards all talk about respect, and then show less than any newbie in any MA school I've ever trained in. They're "google fu" experts, and while they can craft an argument, they don't know $hit most of the time, and especially when talking Aikido.
When I was training with Toyoda, we did what Sensei called "the old Aikido", which was what Tohei had taught him as the original techniques he and O'Sensei worked out. When I say "the technique is designed to break arms or necks", it's because that's exactly what it was designed to do. Like Professor Kano, he took those aspects out of the training to protect the players... but the technique still works the same way, and if you "step through" (in a lot of cases) you get a whole different result than if you practice the "dojo brand" of it's implementation. Just like you can throw, lock, and pin somebody and cause injury using Judo, Aikido will do it in a heartbeat... if you ignore the philosophical and spiritual aspects of the training. Most of these "style wars" are nothing but a pi$$ing contest anyway, and the ones who expose themselves are those "google fu" experts. Unfortunately, many of the readers don't have any (or limited) experience either in what's being argued, so they can read all the posts and never know which one's the idiot. Usually, it's the ones with "pals"... and what they actually "know" is how to gang up, start the name calling, and start challenging the veracity of what's said by somebody who actually has experience at what's being discussed... and just because you've done six months of Aikido at Joe Blow's dojo doesn't make you an "authority". I've taken nidan level players (2nd degree black belt) and taught them more in one class than they learned in several years of practice in many cases. It's an art of nuances and body mechanics. When you do it wrong, it's weak... when you do it right, it's explosive.
I don't argue with Eyrie, because most of the time, what he says is right... and if I disagree, more than likely, it's more esoteric than considering what he said as being "wrong"...(you say tomato, I say to-mah-to) type of thing...
I just spent several months off the board and in the "lurking mode", and this thread has shown me that's probably what I should do again. Clearly, I'm not going to teach anybody anything on a discussion board, and it's completely fruitless to argue with idiots who have to go look up information from people I've trained with and been out to dinner with. If they aren't dead, I'll simply call them on the phone and ask them if I need information.
p.s. to MattJ...
John Stevens never trained with Ueshiba. He was Shirata Rinjiro's student, who did. His only other teacher (his words) was Hanzawa Yoshimi who was the CI at Sendai University where he started Aikido in 1973. He did, however, train with a lot of high level Aikidoka from the Aikikai during his studies. Just so you know. WT