Mark, I have been thinking about the role reversal of shite/uke that you spoke of above. I didn't quite get it at first...but the longer I mull it over, the more sense it makes, especially after training for an hour last night with a rather strong fellow. I'll continue to work that thought...it may resonate even more as I continue to struggle.
Just to give you something more to think about ...
I asked about the definition of taisabaki. Kent Enfield posted some very interesting information.
Well, sabaku doesn't mean "move". It means something more along the lines of "handle/deal with/manipulate", so while it does mean things like "step to the left with your left foot", that's not *all* it means.
Though they often get glossed over at lower levels, and I've not seen any indications of a purposeful curriculum for teaching body skills directly, at higher levels, there seems to be lots of attention to small details that affect how one moves and generates power: tension in the legs, alignment of the hips and spine, etc. It wouldn't surprise me at all for kendo people to visit someone who moves well to see if they could learn how to improve their own movement.
Now, if Ueshiba was moving out of the way of uke's attack and then blending with uke as most of aikido currently works, then why didn't the kendo people come to Ueshiba to learn ashi sabaki
? How to move out of the way? Or could tai sabaki be used here to mean more of a body manipulation in a sense of correct alignment of hips, spine, upper body, etc and generating power within that internal working environment.
From a personal viewpoint, I work on correct alignment of my hips and spine when I'm doing push test exercises. It really is body manipulation, specifically correct alignment. As I note in my vid:
And if I try to do anything dynamically, I still have to keep correct body manipulation/alignment.