George S. Ledyard
This is one of the main problems with how we train. We are supposed to be discovering the principles of aiki by way of our training. Yet the structure of most classes is anything but aiki. The teacher demonstrates a technique, usually a specific variation of that technique. While the teacher might have been skilled enough for this technique to be executed according to aiki principles, the students are expected to reproduce that technique exactly as the teacher just did it.
In a given Aikido technique there are many principles functioning simultaneously. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to discover them merely through endless repetitions of waza. When the class is doing waza, there should be the flexibility to allow variation of the technique to occur as the uke changes how he attacks. If the teacher wishes to teach a particular technique in a particular manner, he or she must instruct the ukes how to deliver the type of attack which naturally leads to that technique. Otherwise you have a mat full of people getting all sorts of different variations of an attack and trying to come up with exactly the same result. That is fundamentally not the way to develop aiki skills.
I think we put way too much attention on technique with no understanding of principle. It should be the opposite. We should focus on developing an understanding of principle and then and only then start layering in technical manifestations of those techniques. I think this approach could shorten the learning curve by decades, literally.
I concur with your analysis above. The problem I run into as a student of aikido is in trying to identify the relevant principles used in any technique. I find it especially frustrating when the seniors I'm working with, or even sometimes the person instructing, either don't know or can't articulate the underlying principle being employed and therefore fall back to teaching a "technique" or a series of moves devoid of any real understanding.
What do you consider the basic principles underlying aikido? How would you teach them to new students while also trying to keep their interest in aikido fresh? How do you rehabilitate a more seasoned practitioner to look for the principle rather than focus on the wasa?
Thanks for you input,