What is your intention when you do an Aikido technique? When you do a shiho nage or kote gaeshi what do you intend to happen to uke?
- First priority: Avoid. Neutralize the attack by block or dodge.
- Second priority: If possible, do the block or dodge in such a way as to give yourself a positional and momentum advantage.
- Third priority: Use these advantages to do A technique.
I found that in training, the attack on nage should be sincere. If uke goes to grab or punch, actually connect if nage botches the Avoid. But really, blocking or dodging should be the most important. In the Real World, a person may have to block, dodge, counterattack many many times in a real fight before he is afforded an opportunity he can exploit (at his skill level).
When the attack is sincere, nage can then practice his second priority, that is to say, blocking with a pivot, or a step in. Knowing the attack is sincere helps nage do this effectively. Once nage gets good at this, he can read uke's energy, his momentum, etc, and prepare for the last part.
Once nage has dealt with the attack, gotten an advantage, he can then take all his instinctive "reads" on uke's energy and turn it around on him. This manifests itself in a pin, throw, or takedown. It is neutralizing uke's ability to attempt to further harm you.
It is my sincerest belief that Aikido lies in the second part, more than anywhere else in the technique.