A few weeks back, at my beginner class, the teacher put us through a different sort of exercise. We did several blending techniques with either our eyes closed or all the dojo lights turned off.
We started the lesson, as always with tai-no-henko and then to tai-no-henko ki-no-nagare.
After that we did tai-no-henko ki-no-nagare with our eyes closed. We then did some tanto-dori with the lights off. At least half the 1.5 hour lesson was conducted with the eyes being of little or no use.
It was the most incredible thing as my timing was actualy better when I wasn't using my eyes!
I found that the best way to blend with the attacker was to calm the breathing down. In my view, the attacker is calm as he/she knows what is going to happen and when. By being jumpy and concentrating too hard, your breathing gets quicker and it is impossible to blend with the attacker.
At the end of class we turned out the lights again and bowed in the darkness with no visual prompts to help us syncronise.
Has anyone else done these kinds of exercises? I found them really usefull and every lesson now I go in hoping that we will do some more!