Mike Sigman wrote:
Trying to keep it as succinct as I can, I think what I'm trying to say is that too many Aikido people are under the impression that "aiki" has a lot to do with arm/hand/wrist techniques at a certain "ma ai" (a word which reinforces the idea of always having a "distance" even though after you get started, "ma ai" disappears).... I'm saying that "aiki" can be done even with the bodies touching, at elbow distance, with your back or shoulder (as Shioda, Ueshiba, and others have done), etc.
[Slippery little "submit" key -- ain't it.]
One of the most idiosyncratic training examples ever given to me of effective tai sabaki at arbitrary distances as you are describing was this suggestion:
Try this the next time you go into a men's restroom (or ladies' for those so inclined) with the typical swing in, self-closing door. Usually, one pushes it open with the arm, or straightarm it with your weight behind the arm.
Try just walking into it completely upright, arms at your sides and pirouette in a tight tenkan-tenkai 360 degrees as you make contact -- 1) Notice how the door moves,and 2) Notice how little impact or disturbance you receive in doing so.
Now try on your favorite uke.