Re: can aikido benefit from chinese arts?
The guy I study under here in Tokyo doesn't teach a specific style persay, although what he does smacks of chinese internal arts and Japanese Koryu training.
That said, it's been two years since I started training under him, and in that time I've been able to progress to the point where I can use what Tom Yawata (from the Aikidojournal blog) terms hiriki, or Kokyu paths (sans the breath work).
Anyways I was able to step on the mat at the Tokyo branch of the Tomiki Aikido place here and execute their moves with no prior instruction in Aikido. If you understand that principal of "Kokyu" path, and the "ire-kae" footwork that's prevalent in JMA and CMA (especially hsing-i) then most of the moves are fairly self-explanatory. (Most of them thought I had several years Daitoryu or Aikido training...lol)
On a more personal note, I was kind of dissapointed to see that the Tomiki Aikido peeps here in Tokyo had more or less no knowledge of Kokyu-power and were trying to execute the moves using timing/simple leverage/ w/ applied brute force.
When one of their black belts couldn't throw me, he asked me to stop "resisting" and to "uke" properly...which was kind of ironic cuz I was "uke"ing him, he just wasn't doing "kuzushi" properly :-p
More telling was the fact that when I asked the head instructor some point blank biomechanical related questions about Kokyu-paths he basically gave me a deer in the headlights look..
Before anyone gets offended, I just want to say that I didn't give this example to say that Tomiki Aikido blows or Aikido blows, you should study CMA etc...
Really this could have gone either way. It depends on how well the instructor has a grasp on these basic concepts and whether he can teach them. If he does, then there's no real need to cross train in CMA. (i.e. if I had a rockin Aikido teacher who understood the concepts, and how to teach them, I could have just as well done the opposite and schooled a bunch of CMA people at push hands after studying aikido)
The Tomiki class students I encountered, most likely, will never really get any of this stuff, if only because of the way that they train(And I must say their curriculum sucked...or rather the way they carried it out) But that's a direct result of incompetance on the instructor's level, no more no less.
Btw, I'll be the first to say that CMA instructors that can perform this stuff are rare in Japan and the States(and for that matter China ^^; ). Even rarer are instructors that can teach it to their students. I've been lucky in that I've been able to meet several teachers that're both (For those willing to try new things, Sam Chin in NY is the bomb.. can both use and teach these key concepts).
Just my two cents