[snip] In fact, if it daoyin only helped someone live longer, it still wouldn't be worth mentioning. [snip]
Agreed. I only mentioned Jeanne Calment to cast an ironic glance at the popular obsession with qigong and neigong work in connection with longevity--when the potential benefits of such practices for health today--and in this discussion, the tie-in with martial training--go overlooked or misunderstood.
Fundamental ideas and variants of fundamental physical practices and mind/body integration are shared across cultures and centuries in east and south Asia. There is ample anecdotal and circumstantial evidence to build a strong case for this. You only need to listen in on a discussion between a yoga practitioner and Ayurvedic physician and a TCM doctor and taiji practitioner, talking about their current work and ancient roots for their respective practices, to realize the commonalities. Historical documentation of religious and economic exchanges show the possibilities for exchange and cross-pollination in the area of internal martial skills and training.
I've been looking over threads on this (and other) forums in the past couple of days as I wait to take off, and considering the large amount of historical exchange that is known. The idea you stated before, in various forms:
The knowledge is widespread AND it is pretty ancient. The practices within Aikido reflect a continuation of a knowledge/skill set that is literally thousands of years old.
is really not that radical. In fact, it makes more sense than asserting that Ueshiba created his ideas and training routines entirely on his own. The insights and evolutions of practice are Ueshiba's own--as they will be for any serious, open-minded practitioner authentically seeking to understand and progress in this area. But they are drawn from a larger cultural transmission, as you've pointed out with different examples, and perhaps to some extent from lineage-based teachings, unique and highly skilled individual teachers, and--to no small degree--by exchanges with other practitioners and "seekers of the Way(s)."