Erick Mead wrote:
I cannot reconcile that with O-Sensei's own statement on timing, which is what provoked my thoughts in this area. It is in the Stanley Pranin translation of a newspaper interview given by jointly by O-Sensei and Second Dosshu. He denied that ou no sen (go no sen) sen no sen or sensen no sen played any part in aikido. It is on Aikido FAQ. http://www.aikidofaq.com/interviews.html
I'll admit that O-Sensei statement is recondite, but his denial of timing is clear. My thoughts have thus focussed more on awareness of musubi as displacing functional timing. So far, the approach has merit in my practice.
O-Sensei stated on a number of occasions that it wasn't about "timing". Timing is essentially a relative term. It refers to the actions of one person and reaction by another.
O-Sensei's take on this came from his spiritual training in which he experienced the essential oneness of all things. He talked about the idea that the attacker and defender were one. This is how he saw it. He was so fundamentally connected with the attacker that it was impossible for the attacker to move separately from him. As the attacker prepared to initiate his attack, O-Sensei had already, in his mind, executed the technqiue. Hence statements like the one he made about being surrounded by spears but feeling like he was already behind them.
If you can achieve that kind of connection with the attacker, relative timing doesn't apply any more. Katsu Hayabi, or victory in this instant, implies that there is no progression of steps in the interaction, which is what "timing" is really about. For O-Sensei, before the attacker ever moved he had already won.
I think Aikido people should understand about the various principles of timing that are part of Japanese martial arts training. None of us are O-Sensei, yet, so we need these relative concepts to help us understand what we are doing. But it is also important that we try to understand how O-Sensei experienced these concpets because it is only by trying to understand and master these concepts that one has any prospect of taking his training to the that level.