I wasn't talking about how you learn; I was talking about how what you keep track of what your training partner is doing during sparring or randori. If you can not use your five senses to keep track of what he's up to and plan a counter, then what do you use? Especially since I've had the need to develop touch sensitivity for every range inside punching range for several years now. But even kickboxing, how do you respond to what he does if you don't go by what you see?
I am saying that you can disregard mysticism and spend more time improving and developing Aikido technique.
No, you can't.
In Best Aikido: The Fundamentals
, O Sensie's son and grandson write that "the concept of ki is central to Aikido, and the Founder [O Sensei] always emphaszied the importance of ki." (p. 16) Let's consider that statement and see where it takes us: If ki is, as you claim mystical, then mysticism is central to Aikido by design
-- that's the way O Sensei wants it. Which means if you take the mysticism out, then yes, you can still teach the throws and joint locks, but you've torn out something central, so maybe you can not call it Aikido.
Which means Aikido without mysticism wouldn't be a step forward: Aikido without mysticism wouldn't be Aikido.
Of course you can -- and probably will -- argue that they are wrong. But that assumes that you and your friend at the trinity foundation haven't stretched the deifnition of "mysticism" to the point where it can cover damn near anything. But if you have, then maybe you're wrong.