Re: Long road vs short road to ki power (aiki, internal strength...)
I think Aikido and Budo, in general, are about much more than building internal skills. Albeit this is an important part of the total process.
There is a Mental, Spiritual, and Physical aspect to Aikido, as with most Do arts. Internal Skills I think do require and touch all three aspects, the skills themselves are purely a physical thing as taught by Mike and Ark. Although, again, it is not that easy to break down to simply physical as I think breathing and connection require you to be mentally and spiritually aligned in some regard, but that is getting somewhat philosophical now.
It also requires you to be receptive to learning them, and willing to put in the time. For most of us, that is a maturation process. I would not have been receptive or able to understand what these guys are teaching 10 years ago, nor have the background to even begin to evaluate or process that information.
So, it has taken me like 15 years to get to this point. I think you will find that most of us are on a similar path.
Rob John I think is the exception not the norm, but the Aunkai guys will have to speak on this themselves. Rob has been doing this like 4 years, and even he will tell you that he has a long way to go...so what is short?
Another observation, I don't believe any of us that have accepted Mike and Ark's training methods have abandoned what we are doing, so that should tell you something about the process and value of various components.
Also, O'Sensei's students that "got it" had a background in other arts. Keep in mind that they probably did many of the same exerccises and came to O'Sensei conditioned better than the average westerner.
I think what you are referring to "short" is in line with Einstein's definition of insanity. We have been practicing the same way over and over for 15 or 20 years and expect a different result.
Along comes a few guys that have us take a slightly different look at the same "family" of exercises and drills and allow us to develop skill now.
I see nothing "short" about the process at all.
Also the endstate in Aikido is not ultimately about developing internal skill, but about being a better person through realization of potential. It is quite possible to have internal training and not understand this, it is also quite possible to be successful in aikido to a degree and not ever learn the internal skills. Although I'd submit that you probably have not exploited all that it has to offer.
To me it is sort of a paradox. You explore this area because the DO demands that you search for everything that allows you to experience your body to it's fullest potential. However, Chasing the KI for the sake of chasing it, leads you down a path that is also incorrect.
I don't believe there are any shortcuts.