George S. Ledyard wrote:
There seems to be some sort of Rousseau-ean idea that if one just returns to some Eden of original movement one has "aiki". .... Just because the person is relaxed and moves naturally, doesn't mean he has done anything other than attain the pre-requisite for doing technique with "aiki". The ability to maintain that relaxation under pressure is a specialized skill. ... I maintain that the mind and body in no way will react to stress using these principles without a lot of re-programming and study of the specific principles involved.
There is, however, a barrier to learning those things that comes very much from the level of awareness/response and the developmental change in perception and action that David is speaking to. It is probably a chicken and egg question -- but I sense that in developing aiki skills the one cannot occur without the other and vice versa.
Not to beat the dead sea mammal, but one can only speak authoritatively from experience, and mine includes -- (wait for it) -- a lot of swimming. A point was once made by a fantastic swimming coach of mine early on in my training. God help me, I was ten then, now I am forty, and she has coached my kids.
It had to do with the finish. The finish is a moment of critical concentration of simultaneous effort, relaxation and rhythm that is a peak experience very much akin to that of budo in how the body mobilizes its resources to give effect to the principles underlying proper technique.
Some guys (lookit me) had technique that went to hell the moment they began to "compete" seriously with the guy next to them. Those guys would start to beat the water furiously, as though it could submit to brute force, and lose all the breath (ki) necessary to finish strongly at the end. So there is an aiki lesson in here somewhere.
Don't waste energy struggling with the water -- it always wins.
Don't struggle for breath while under water -- it doesn't help.