First, I have to say I love your term "geriaikidoka." I refuse to apply it to myself for another few years, but I'll find it appropriate soon enough.
Could you elaborate on what you said here?
2. Very often, pain above the knee is due to trigger points in the quads, in which case strength training alone won't help: any tense trigger points need to be dealt with before the muscle can either stretch OR contract properly.
3. The best way to protect any loose joint is indeed strength training for the support muscles; for knees this means not only quads but hamstrings. ...
I am finding my quads are way more tight on one side than the other, and the inside/back of that knee hurts if I try to do anything terribly strenuous, like, oh, sitting seiza. The hip on the other side hurts if I try to sit cross-legged. I experience the "crunching" in both knees like Ashley described. I've heard that can be from imbalanced muscles pulling things in the wrong directions. I'm doing some basic exercises and stretches every day, and they are helping, but do you have any particular exercises (or books) you could recommend?
I go back to the shoulder doc (orthopedic surgeon) on Monday - I'll ask him too, and ask him to refer me to PT as well.
Thanks for any guidance!