Re: How Long and In What Manner to Great Mastery?
Saotome sensei's ability to disappear is my absolute favorite thing about his aikido. Several - but still only few - of his students can do it. I experienced Pete Trimmer sensei doing it to me on a yokomenuchi strike! That was just weird... Marsha Turner disappeared on me while I was 1 of 3 people attacking freely in randori. I almost attacked one of the other attackers. That was impressive for her and almost embarrassing for me. Jane Doyle disappeared on me once too. That's it in my experience with the ASU. There may be more people who can do it, or do it once and a while. But it's certainly not a common thing. * I * still cannot do it. Outside of the ASU, I experienced this with Takeda Yoshinobu sensei and several of his senior students (he had like 6 people in class that were 6th dans and some of them did it pretty well too). That was fun and inspiring.
I do wonder if the current skill set I'm learning will help me with this kind of thing. It is a totally different way of moving (HA! moving with center and all) then what I had been doing and it is really hard to read. I used to think you MUST learn this skill set to ensure the person attacking you had to commit some weight if they ever were going to seriously try to hit you. I no longer think that this is a MUST - but I will always consider it a NICE TO HAVE.
My personal and most recent experience with Ikeda sensei was that _some_ of the things he tried about 2 years ago do not stand up to the level of internal training I am doing now. I would NOT be entirely shocked if what he was experimenting with 2 years ago has been completely revamped. I like that about him. He tries things, a lot ... and that is inspiring...