Mark Murray wrote:
Since you're mulling things over and since I know little to nothing about Tohei's background, where do you think he got his "ki" ideas from?
Well, first of all, "Ki" is not a mysterious unknown topic to many people in Japan and Asia, particularly if they've been involved in the martial arts world. Notice how generally incredulous or "I don't know what it is" or "here's my guess about Ki" the discussions get on the western martial arts sites. Ki is not at all like that in discussions in Asian circles.
Tohei studied Judo before he studied Aikido. Through contacts in Judo, Aikido, other martial artists from other arts, from the common lore, etc., Tohei would have known generally what Ki was and that it contributed to power... at the very least.
Tohei studied outside of Aikido in several places which could have given him some of the Ki training. Most of his "opened my eyes" material probably came from Tempu Nakamura, the guy they say did the "Japanese Yoga" (I bought a book about it a few years ago, but it was typically superficial and unfulfilling).
I have some indications that Tohei probably has training methods that are not shown to everyone in the Ki Society. Gernot Hassenpflug posted some comments from one good source that supports that. Some earlier students have told me of things that they saw. And so on. I wish I had been in a position to actually get a feel of Shaner Sensei based on me not having to worry so much about decorum and protocol... maybe in the future... but my impression of Shaner's abilities was (and this is a guess) that while he may be "Okuden" level, there are probably some training methodologies that Tohei doesn't show everyone.
The "Relax" stuff will only get you so far. After that you need specific training in order for the body skills to increase and those skills take a while to develop (mine are only moderate, at best, BTW, but in the Kingdom of the Blind.... ) . At one point in his demonstration, Shaner Sensei was showing how to simply leave your arm in someone's grasp, relinquish it, and walk away (I'm not totally sure what the point was, but I assume it was something he thought beginners should be made aware of). Then he briefly showed once how he could walk into Uke even if he didn't relax and relinquish the arm. He said it was an "advanced" technique, indicating that someone had to be trained in order to learn how to do it. Well...... why couldn't he just "relax" and do it? See the point.... "relaxation" has its place, but you will not discover everything by just "relaxing" and making yourself "one with the universe". There are levels of skills and ability and a person needs to be shown how to do these more "advanced" aspects of the skills.
I *liked* what Shaner showed of Tohei's approach and I support it, with the caveat that I think they can do better (and I hope they do... the Ki Society has, IMO, the best shot at doing Aikido with Ki skills if they tighten up the focus and open up the information some more. Bear in mind, though, that just having good Ki skills does not mean that someone is going to be doing "good Aikido". However, "good Aikido" really only comes after these basic skills are in place, IMO (and I don't think I'm alone in that opinion).