Re: Frustrated by unconvincing aikido
Ah! The dilemma of the no touch throws. Do they work? In my opinion, only if the attacker is truly giving an honest attack and the nage is able to effectively blend with the energy of the attack and connect with the uke in such a fashion to break uke's balance. So when practicing this, it is obvious it will look fake because the uke knows what you are going to do and could easily counter it.
At a recent seminar, taking ukemi for the shihan I was thrown without actually grabbing him. Why because he was able to effectively deal with my grab in such a manner it caused me to lose my balance. From the sidelines, I'm sure this looks fake. However, to me my balance was effectively taken causing me to go down. There is a lot involved in such throws: timing, committed attack, etc.
Sometimes when learning something it is necessary to try what is shown and see where it leads you-you can then accept it or dismiss it or realize maybe you don't fully understand what is going on.
I agree with you on the martial effectiveness issue. This shihan always wants a strong attack-he keeps telling everyone to grab harder. He is able to easily do the techniques on big guys weighing probably over a 100 pounds more than he does.
I did one time train in a school where the students would ask you to attack them and then it would be done very softly-the problem was they couldn't make the techniques work. The instructor could. Why? He took the balance whereas his students did not. Even though it was soft-he would taken your center.
Just some thoughts. Don't dismiss all of the softer or no touch stuff. Saying I can do it because I'm a 6th dan though is totally meaningless. A better explanation of what was going on would have been much more productive.