Im not saying anyone should beat up on anyone, im just asking why anyone would just "take ukemi" if nothing happened?
This is really the wrong question... it doesn't allow for new learning because it assumes that you already understand what is going on. A better question would be "what is going on that I don't understand that produces that ukemi?"
I have seen the same type of energy work done by someone like Michael Ryabko of the Systema. If you simply observe it, it looks fake. It looks fake because we don't have a mental paradigm which includes that type of work. It really needs to be felt
I will say that "aiki" is about using the various sensory inputs, including the intuition to move the mind. Most people's experience of excellent Aikido is limited largely to the sense of touch with quite a bit of vision input.It starts to get really interesting when someone is good enough to start communicating using your intuition (consciousness).
It make a sort of sense because it is certainly the mind which moves the body. If one can move the partner's mind, he will them move his body. My still somewhat limited understanding of how this works bears this out. I have both had technique done to me on this level and I have also worked a bit on this type of thing myself.
Anyway, there is so much stuff out there that simply is outside of my current comprehension that I keep an open mind until I can experience it myself.
I think that Watanabe's work is understandable but he has his uke's acting as amplifiers for the energy he puts out. I have taken ukemi for him and he quite able to hurl me around the mat but he wasn't doing energy projections at ten feet either. It's one thing to train oneself and ones students to develop a high level of sensitivity but it's quite another to train them to be "reactive". "Fudoshin" is about having that highly developed "sensitivity" but having no "reactivity".
Just looking at the film clips, I would say that Abe Sensei's work was more subtle. Watanabe is shooting for the same thing but isn't there. Abe Sensei's stuff is more interesting. I'd love to have had the experience of taking some ukemi from him... that's the real test.
I would simply say that all of the really interesting stuff out there is the stuff you don't understand. I have so may friends who form all sorts of opinions about styles and teachers with whom they have absolutely no direct experience. Most of them have stopped getting any better. They are stuck because their seeking is restricted by their understanding. As far as I am concerned, the least interesting stuff to work on is what is already understood. I think folks should work more outside their comfort levels.