George S. Ledyard wrote:
O-Sensei was once asked why there wasn't any ground fighting in Aikido? He replied that rolling around on the ground with another human being was "unseemly" (or whatever the Japanese equivalent was). I think this reflects his view of what the point of Aikido training actually is. It's not about fighting... it's about shaping who you are. This is true of virtually all of the modern budo.
Hey George, hope to see you when I'm at the Shinbukan soon. Aaron really enjoyed spending a bit of time with you.
As to the quote above... I agree with most all of what you said in the post except this part quoted.
I have grown up doing newaza with some really "elegant, 'seemly', and highly skilled" folks. The principles of aiki don't disappear by going from tachiwaza to newaza. Whether someone does it with elegance and the other criteria you describe is a matter of intent and training.
I suspect there was some prejudice we don't know about that would explain Ueshiba Morihei's dislike for ground work. To the best of my knowledge, he never really trained in newaza under a skillful teacher. Too bad it wasn't possible to question him about things such as this.
I do agree with the last two sentences in the above quote. That is the larger meaning. It's good to be able to take and keep the sente in any situation though along with the cultivation of self and our ability to get along together. It's all part of the package in this journey.