George S. Ledyard
This first realized on the physical level as one relaxes completely during practice. One realizes that to accomplish a technique one changes oneself rather than trying to change the partner. As one progresses to higher level technique the practice moves increasingly from the physical to the energetic. One begins to change the relationship with the partner / attacker before physical contact is even made.
Eventually, one comes to an understanding that "aiki" is what happens when we stop believing we are separate and start relaxing our mind and body to the point at which we exist mostly in a state of potential, that the effort to accomplish technique is a tiny fraction of what we once thought it required. Technique eventually reaches a point at which it feels effortless to the practitioner and almost incomprehensible to the partner. One moves and isn't sure why it happened.
Excellent post George, thanks.
I clipped the quote above as this is the area of practice that I try to focus all of my efforts on trying to convey to my students. I have no interest in whether aikido would be 'effective' in a fight, however, the more I practice with this state of mind, the more I find myself thinking that if it came to the crunch, it probabaly would be. That said I don't have a wishy washy approach to practice, I love the martial roots of our art and am aware during practice of where and when strikes and blows would have been executed. They are not necessary to achieve the connection you are talking about.
My fascination is with the fact that when you can achieve proper aiki, performing aikido is unbelievably easy and what makes it so hard for the student to achieve, is precisely this total lack of effort needed. When I watch students perform and can see where they are making a mistake, 9 times out of 10 they are doing too much rather than not enough. The act of 'not doing' is a much more difficult act to master than 'doing'.
I'm sure this quest alone will keep me amused for many more years.
Anyway, thanks and keep the good articles coming, you stimulate and provoke, always a good combination, cheers,