Ledyard Sensei wrote:
In Aikido we "own" our space. As a visualization to counter the misconception that we are in some way "escaping" from the attack, I have students say to themselves "this is my house and I am not leaving just because you are coming in". Aikido entry is quite simply about creating rotation at or just before the moment of physical contact. This rotation is created by the relative movement of the hips. But the mind, how you place your attention, does not change at all when you enter. The mind is simply "inside" the attack at all times, even before there is an attack. A step coupled with hip rotation will change the angle relative to the attacker but there is no perceivable shift of attention to the place to which one is moving.
A great point you are making here Sensei! Thank you!
What personally works for me on the mat is the following: I try to keep my mind empty until I perceive an imminent attack and at the moment I perceive it I think of completely dominating my opponent by penetrating his circle of power and displacing his center. This usually puts me well inside the attack without trying to avoid the attack proper.
At a seminar, I've heard Chiba Sensei say "you must penetrate" in this context and he related to us a koan given to him by O'Sensei in the form "how do you cut the center of a circle?" After many years of sitting on this he realized that in order to cut the center of a circle, you must 1st be inside the circle. As I was taught, this is the purpose of irimi.