George S. Ledyard
I think that Aikido should be taught completely differently from the way it is generally taught. The vast majority of the Aikido that I see out there suffers from two major problems:
a) People mistake harmonious movement for "aiki"
b) Technique is generally physical relying solely on muscle strength and good body mechanics
... So what is it that needs to be taught that generally isn't? It's how one receives the energy of an attack into the body and how to give energy back to the partner without collision. There are mental or psychic elements to this process and there are very specific physical elements.
... In order to start developing the intuition that is the hallmark of really high level technique, it is necessary to quiet the mind. When the mind is excited or "noisy" you are feeling yourself, not the partner. As you quiet yourself down, you start to vibrate sympathetically with your partner. You begin to "feel" the change iin his intention that precedes a physical attack.
All of this is what "aiki" is about.
Resonance. In every respect -- actually
, and not metaphorically... knowing when one has reached and connected to his wrist, to his elbow, to his shoulder and on into the spine and hips is not "like" sonar -- it IS
Receiving echoes. Real vibrations. Furitama. tekubi furi -- "Spirit of Bees." Ude-furi, Funetori -- the "Demon Snake." All of them, forms of oscillation. Too much self-noise drowns the return signal from these.
Tactile triggered reflex complexes are faster (by about two orders of magnitude) than visually triggered reflexes. That means those systems update changes in perceptive thresholds that much faster, too. Aiki does not initially trigger them -- so much as modulate and tune the perceptive components -- and THEN trigger them, with overt action formed in the same way as the perception is achieved.
Other inputs then come to be perceived with the same cognitive system -- once the mind is attuned to it through the structural resonance of one's own body in connection with another. ANY thing that experiences an oscillation (displacement around a center value) (which is literally everything, whether one is consciously aware of it or not) can be perceived and acted upon with the same sensibility.