It is NOT about acquiring a collection of waza.
I, for one, never said it was. Kihon are a tool, like any tool, intended to make work possible or more efficent. They are not the work itself, an assumption which it is very right to criticize.
It is about discerning how the principles power the waza ...
Fine. Explain the physical principles, and explain how they power the waza. Be forewarned, of course, that if you can't explain it to my satisfaction, I may decide that you do not in fact discern them.
This point is explicitly based on a very unfair assumption I am making -- but it is simply the precise obverse of the often-stated, and unfounded assumption in these discussions that "X hasn't felt this; X therefore doesn't know what he is talking about."
Let's get past that silliness for once and for all. Being able to apply power -- from whatever source derived, does not mean you understand the principles of the power you are invoking and applying. Hunderds of millions of people, every day, flip a light switch without the faintest clue as to the principles they are applying in doing that. The President can launch the power of several thousand megatons of thermonuclear warheads. He almost certainly does not understand the principles that make them do what they do. I am on fairly safe ground to say that he likely can't build one even if given sound instructions, because
he does NOT understand the principles he may be trying to apply.
Application does not necessarily result in discernment. Discernment may often be divorced from any possibility of application. Stephen Hawking has surely proved that.
For budo, these things must go hand in hand. It is a deep principle of Japanese budo, stemming from Neo-Confucianism, that knowledge and action be unified. For an art that is expressly intended to be instantaneously adaptive and creative, it is doubly essential.
For an art that has made many inroads toward becoming endemic in the West, it has yet to make the Western idiom a comfortable fit. It is time that this changed. That does not mean that if we just work long or hard enough then we can just flip the proverbial light switch on our aikido.
Budo doesn't work that way. It is by definition a commitment of one's entire being. Unlike the casual invocation of incidental light, it requires the whole spirit and mind as well. We cannot reach deeply into the mind of the typical Westerner until we can pass the gates of his understanding -- the idiom that is used to learn and understand things deeply.