Re: How to teach and train relaxation
it does seem that some styles don't teach relaxation until 'higher-level' stuff.
And Ki Aikido teaches relaxation from the beginning.
If you compare Aikido to say, piano playing....
one wonders which is better in the long run?
I would argue that learning proper relaxation from the beginning enforces those 'good habits'. As it seems that Aikido is all about letting go of 'bad habits' of tensing up and trying to force things, so I don't see why you wouldn't want to emphasis relaxation from the beginning.
As far as what we DO to emphasize relaxation....
Ki Breathing, Ki meditation, Sokushin no Gyo, and then all the ki testing we do. You can't pass ki tests unless you are relaxed and keeping one point, so you tend to learn to relax yourself.
One important note, is that it's important for general relaxation, especially to help beginners, to have a non-contentious, non-competitive atmosphere. Although Aikido always gives lip service to being a non-competitive art, you can still see it creeping up everywhere.
and btw Mike, which Aikidoka were you? I was at that seminar, the only guy in the room with a purple belt.