Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
I think that Tomiki, Arikawa, Tada and a few others figured out for themselves what M Ueshiba was doing in his personal training. They did not so much ask him questions as watch, feel, especially when they took ukemi, and then work out what they thought was going on. The problem here is that the focus of this training is still the Master and what the Master shows. However, I have indicated above that this is not a problem unique to budo training.
It's a good point. My personal guess (based on some observations and experience, but admittedly limited) is that there was a certain amount of anecdotal knowledge of Ki things in the dojo. I think that's prevalent in most martial arts dojos in Asia. Knowing anecdotally that the Ki things were there (and what they could do, what they were comprised of, etc.... the common knowledge can be pretty high in an Asian dojo), being able to see Ueshiba demonstrate these things, etc., gave a situation probably more ripe than they "figured out for themselves". It was probably far more obvious than that, in my speculation.
I added the reference to Arikawa to show that some shihans had figured out for themselves that the distinction 'internal/external' when applied to aikido (CMA = mainly internal / Aikido = mainly external--and less efficient than, e.g., DRAJJ or BJJ) is too superficial. But it has to be faced, and accepted for what it is, that none of them talked about it in those terms (internal vs. external training), if they talked about it at all.
The "internal" vs "external" dichotomy is probably not pertinent in these discussions. All the Chinese martial arts use "nei gongs" ("internal exercises") to develop "nei jing" ("internal strength"), but to varying degrees, to varying degrees of added musculature versus ki, and so on. Only a few (tops = 16) Chinese martial arts are considered to be part of the "Nei JIa", the "internal families" or "internal styles". These styles use a store and release of the dantien that is simply a variant usage of the "nei jing" skills... nothing more.
So to be perfectly accurate, Aikido has "Nei Jing" (internal strength) and there is a general variant shown by Ueshiba, Tohei, and Abe Sensei's (among others) that indicates the preferred usage of nei jing in Aikido is one of the softer varieties, not the harder varieties seen in some karate's, southern Chinese martial arts, and so on
What can be said of Aikido is not that it's an "internal art", but it is accurate to say that it uses "internal power", etc.... just like all the other Asian martial arts. Right now there is beginning to be a movement by some people to re-insert that core strength intot their Aikido; others will resist even if the logic becomes inescapable. But that's not the concern, or it shouldn't be, IMO. The concern should be for the accuracy with which we all transmit our knowledge of the various arts (and that includes the use of these skills in calligraphy, tea ceremony, Japanese dance, and so on).