Late to the thread but...I guess I could be in the group of people Dan was thinking of. I've been to two seminars with Akuzawa, meaning I did find it useful enough to go back. And I still do aikido. That said I'm a hobbyist, I train when I feel like it and so I haven't changed as much as I could have if I trained more. Dunno how coherent this will be but some random thoughts...
Oh, first of all, in another thread three different people mentioned carrying groceries. That is one activity where I often think of these things.
My teacher can still throw me around, and as long as he can, I don't see any reason to leave aikido.
One thing that has changed is that a couple years ago, I could make a connection to uke but it was very weak. Uke only needed to push a bit to wear me out and push through it. Technically it was maybe correct or at least in the right direction to what my teacher is working towards but I just couldn't maintain it. Nowadays I can make a connection and maintain it easier (well relatively speaking, just read on...).
My work as an Alexander technique teacher also has a profound influence on how I move and use my body. It also influences how I do the Aunkai exercises that I do, so I really don't know if the direction I'm going is at all the direction the rest of you are going. Just to be clear.
At least I've now found a way that I can keep doing the exercises, for I while I couldn't because the dissonance was too great.
One of the most noticeable results I've had from solo training was after a Christmas holiday when I hadn't been to the dojo for three-four weeks. I had done some solo training every day, but only maybe 15 min. a day. First class after holidays, no sore muscles anywhere, nada. Usually I always really feel it after a break like that. If anything, that time I felt in better shape after the break.
I have showed some of the exercises to my dojomates. As far as I know no one does them outside of class. I sometimes do in the warm ups if I'm teaching.
The focus of the classes I lead (once every two weeks) has for a time now been maintaining structure. We've experimented with different things in the warm ups, like walking forward while someone is pulling you back by your belt (if you try to pull forward with your shoulders you just bend in half), or doing a tenkan while someone is hanging on your shoulders from the back. That second one is fun btw because people who turn with their shoulders will swing violently out of balance. Someone who keeps straight and turns as a whole will fling the"uke" away.
In know those are very crude ways to try and train this stuff but I was just trying to come up with something to give people an idea. Then when we go on to practice techniques we try to see where the moments are where either uke or tori loses structure in the same ways as what we had done in the warm ups. Lately I have an idea that some people are really on board with this and I don't need to keep reminding them so much anymore, so I've also been focusing on other stuff again. There are a couple of guys who really are quite stable on their two feet now that they've got the idea that it's allowed.
As for my own training I asked my teacher a while back what I should focus on right now. "You could work on what to do if uke resists more" was received with glee by the rest of the dojo.
It's been very interesting because a couple of the guys I mentioned above, if they grab me and decide to stand as well as they can, more often than not I've lost it. I have to really try to connect to them as
they grab to have a chance. And once we're in the middle of a technique, more often than not I lose them again because I can't move all through a technique and maintain my structure and connection to them at the same time.
Now Mark is going to go "see, you should stop training and just work on solo stuff for x years"
but thing is, I do this for fun, and I think doing techniques is fun. So there. I don't care if I progress slower because of that.
Actually when I think about it the thing that I find most interesting in aikido is the... emotional, mental something like that, stuff. I could practice the things I'm most interested in quite well without paying so much attention to internal strength(tm). But hobbyist that I am, I feel like a more rounded hobbyist this way.