Re: Shioda, Tohei, and Ki Things
This is one of the most fascinating threads I've seen on Aikiweb for a long while!
My teacher (Kanetsuka Sensei) talks a lot about "aiki" and contact, and these days spends far more time teaching these than technique itself, to the evident frustration of many in his classes. His original teacher was Gozo Shioda, and one can see much of the influence of Shioda in the way he moves, and also in the kind of very quick, direct "centre-to-centre" contact he has with his uke. This, as I understand it, is a kind of contact which is rarely seen in Aikido, and Kanetsuka Sensei is constantly berating us for not getting this point.
Mike's mention of "standing" intrigues me - I have only limited experience of the Chinese arts, but Kanetsuka Sensei went through a phase about fifteen years ago, when he had come through the worst of his serious bout with cancer, of doing some exercises which I've never seen elsewhere in Aikido. One I think of (in my ignorance of its real name) as "holding the circle": standing with the arms out at chest height, fingertips touching and palms facing the body, and the heels held a little off the floor. He also taught an exercise he always refers to as being Chinese in origin - swinging the arms from shoulder level down to a little behind the hips, while letting the heels rise a little with each swing. At that time he would have us do both of these for twenty minutes or more.
What I would find very interesting is what other contributors to this thread think of Yamaguchi Sensei's Aikido in this context. He has been another strong influence on Kanetsuka Sensei, and to me his contact, which he referred to as "atari", seems to be similar in its essence to that of Shioda's (though their Aikido was quite different in form). I was of course hugely impressed by his Aikido when I first saw him twenty years or so ago in Oxford, but each time I watch video footage of him now the more I wish he were still around, as I see new subtleties in his extraordinarily smooth but powerful Aikido.