There is, of course, an objective skillset underlying aikido and judo, but each practitioner seems to also have a subjective aesthetic ideal of what the art is supposed to look and feel like. Perhaps this is (some of) the difference between do and jutsu.
We inherit a lot of our aesthetic ideal from our instructors, but we probably also get a bunch of it from movies and youtube. How many mid-1990's aikido guys out there can honestly say that they didn't get a kick out of seeing the beginning of this movie (and the rest of Seagal's shenanigans)? Depending on how it jived with the aikido you were being taught, it probably either made you want to do aikido that looked like that - or even if you hated what you saw in Seagal, I bet it took a long time to really, honestly get over thinking that this was what real aikido was supposed to look like.
And how about judo guys? I bet nearly all of us love to circulate things like this on Facebook...
...which is cool and ok, until someone gets the idea that this is what all "good judo" looks like.
The problem with this sort of media depiction of our arts is the same problem with porn - it can fool you into thinking that is the way real people are supposed to look and act. It can deform your ideas about reality, which can then deform your practice, your teachings, and even your interactions in the real world.
Personally, I was exposed to a lot of teachings in both aikido and judo coming up through the ranks, that I've begun to wonder about in the last couple of years. There are a lot of teachings that I have a hard time telling if they are someone's aesthetic or if they are necessarily functional principle. I have a hard time separating practitioners' aesthetic ideals from teachers' heuristic rules of thumb from champion's ideas of best practices.
Things like unbendable arm in aikido - I've seen folks do really cool aikido with or without that piece.
Things that we take for granted, like "get your center lower than uke's to do a shoulder throw" - I've also seen tall people able to do good seoinage and koshinage without bending their knees at all.
Things like whether gripfighting is an essential skill or a time-waster.
Even things like the idea that kuzushi or atemi must come before any technique for it to work properly.
The list goes on and on.
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