It seems that sometimes words get in the way. For that reason I train in silence and let aikido speak for itself through my training. Here, words can lead down strange paths and it seems to me, in this case, they have. Like aikido at times, the story is in between the lines.
I feel the points you brought up are excellent in a general sense. The points you brought up don't relate to what I need to newly incorporate into my practice, although I understand they were inspired by my post Along with many amazing teachers, I have been in the process of training in these "key" concepts for my entire life. I've met these lessons in many forms and many voices. Your points are beautiful and good reminders.
Motomichi Anno Sensei, my primary teacher, insisted that I lose my form completely 6 years ago when he was certain I had absorbed the above lessons in body, mind, and spirit. He said "You're good now". Since then, it has been free form and an open ability to maintain the lessons within me, through all the amazing and unusual places I roam (including boxing gyms, pubs, and the occassional rodeo). He still says, "You're good now. You can now be yourself. Aikido is you."
I hope other people are as lucky as I am to have such an amazing instructor and human being in their lives. An instructor who can see when we've crossed the threshold and a person we can witness, love, and respect who has crossed it before us. A person who's shoulders we can stand on.
Thanks for your patience in reply, George.
Anno Sensei is one of the great gems. The Kami smiled on me and allowed me to prevail at a fund raising auction at Kimberly Richardson Sensei's new dojo. I got a beautiful "Take Musu Aikido" calligraphy done by Anno Sensei which I have had framed and placed at my dojo. It makes me smile every time I look at it. I wish I could get down there to train with him but I have my own frantic schedule...
Anyway, I know what you are saying... it's just important that we not confuse letting go of the form with not being in absolute accordance with the principles involved. The form can be almost infinite at a certain point but only if the principles are so ingrained that they are really a part of you. Too many people try to go formless in imitation of what they perceived O-Sensei doing but they have never understood the principles at work. So you get people whose movement is beautiful, their hearts are open, they love everybody but they can't actually do their waza. Now on some level, that may not matter... what's more important, how your training shapes your life and your relationships for the better, or how well you can hurl somebody who attacks you? That's pretty clear.
But the waza is a true measure of how one really understands the principles and for someone like O-Sensei, who is the model we strive to imitate on some level at least, there was no disconnect between the spiritual and the martial. He manifested the principles both within and without. That's why I always try to keep refining my understanding of the principles at work so that I don't go too far into the stratosphere in my Aikido.