Desperate to rehabilitate ki
I recently bought a dvd of the late Saito Sensei demonstrating aiki jo and aiki ken. In one section he says (this is a paraphrase) one should raise the bo-ken and allow the universal ki to enter the kissaki, before executing the technique. This is as clear an indication I have seen that O Sensei did include the channelling of ki as integral to aikido practice (given that Saito Sensei aimed to preserve exactly what he was taught by O Sensei). I also conclude that O Sensei did not thus conceptualise ki as the best mechanical advantage, but as an actual force.
When I began training in taiji, I was taught two techniques in my very first lesson, enabling me to exert sufficient force on another person that they were powerless to resist. I did this with a completely relaxed body, and under instruction to make no effort at all. I was able to effect these techniques within about an hour of the beginning of my first lesson. I should add that I had no martial arts or other physical training before that day.
Of course these were exercises with a partner, and not the same as taijutsu, but the principle remains, - I was immeasurably more powerful than I can be with my muscles alone, even when many of my muscles were disabled (one of them involves sweeping away one's partner with one hand while one's heels and upper back are pressed against a wall. Try it, and see how much you are immobilised in this position).
In all my study of Japanese martial arts, whether through my training or through books or forums such as this one, there remains a debate about whether ki is an actual force or is merely the best mechanical advantage that non-practitioners cannot access.
The argument usually takes the form of one person saying they have experienced ki, either through my kind of experience or through uprooting in taiji. The non-believers then say that this proves nothing and that the ki believers must therefore be deluded (this is not always stated in so many words but is the inevitable implication).
Those who think ki is best mechanical advantage (or BMA, as it is more properly known) might be enlightened by going to learn from a taiji teacher (perhaps asking him to demonstrate uprooting).
So, to those who think the believers are deluded, let me ask you a question. When you saw, for example, Saito Sensei throw a fourth dan aikidoka without actually raising his hands from his sides, did you think that was done with best mechanical advantage? Do you think that Saito Sensei or O Sensei were deluded when they spoke of ki as an actual force?
I look forward to your replies with great interest.
At your service