Aikido in my town is more popular than its ever been. Class size is double it's previous record, and we are looking at starting a second venue next month.
Tbh most of that is because I am awesome.
On the whole, I think aikido seems to be increasing in popularity at about the same rate it makes is steady move towards dancing.
I see it becoming to old people's tai chi, what bjj is to judo.
I should point out that I don't count my own club in that trend. (Not because I haz th3 r34l aikido or anything. We are as guilty of most of the sins aikido is accused of - the difference is that I still wish it wasn't true.)
The view i expressed comes from my general experience of it from visits to other clubs, online friends training in other countries, forums, video etc.
Shakey i know, but I've been exposed to the same input since I started over 20 years ago, and it has been a visible shift in focus.
It seems many people practicing at this stage are trapped between 2 stools. They want to claim that it's effective, but not have to test it because "that's not what it's about".
This is an uncomfortable position for all involved.
I'm seeing more people of late happier to be unable to use it for self defence.
For me, this is very sad, as it's contrary to my goals, and contrary to what I want for aikido.
Overall though, perhaps that result is better than that middle ground of denial. I really don't know.
Far better to know what it does and doesn't do, IMO. Part of the problem w/ some "arts" are that people get a false sense of security. Possibly this is the case with all "fighting arts", but probably more so with some than others, and IMO inversely proportionate to how rigorously they are pressure tested.
That middle ground is wishful thinking, and self delusion. Sometimes it pays to know you suck (I know I do).
Aikido was extremely popular in the late 90's, or at least it seemed so to me. With the onslaught of popularity of MMA, I feel it has decreased but is still one of the more popular martial arts.
There have been some political rifts in Japan lately that may effect aikido. Hopefully not though.
As to your last question, especially in regard to aikido, it really does depend on the teacher. Not even just the school in some cases. My first aikido school provided a very different experience Monday and Wed than it did on Tues and Thursd. On the occasion that I am running the beginning of the class at my school I try to really push people physically...to the point where they do a few more repetitions after their 'quit' has already settled in to make them realize, in a small way, that they are in control of their concept of limitations. I recently visited an aikido school in DC that puts a month long emphasis on their training regime. When I was there it was fitness and ground work, the next month was going to be basic fundamentals. Its a really big martial art full of greatness and suck. so you have to really shop around. I've trained in most Japanese martial arts (gendai budo) and aikido is the one I consider my favorite. I can't speak to self defense qualities of aikido as its not an attribute that interests me and, at this point, its hard for me to delineate my other training from aikido as I consider the basic concepts of all to be inexorably linked.
There is still a notion in the public that Aikido is good for self defense. My old man, who practiced MA for many years still thinks that if one obtains a black belt in Aikido he can take care of himself...he never did Aikido himself though. Besides, it will stay popular because it lets people that don't like to get hit practice a MA, and gain belts.. from what i see in our local AIkido school, it is mainly bespectacled girls and boys. Am i wrong in the notion that even obtaining a black belt in Aikido won't give you skills in a fight?!
Have you tried it?
yes a couple of times in different places.