loaded question coming through
which approach, waza or non-waza, produce better aiki body in the shorter time frame? (yes, i am aware of the personal effort needed)
have not meet Dan so can't say. had a few opportunities with Howie, but was very aiki-illiterate at the time. would like to know the commonality though.
It's not a loaded question and it has a clear and definitive answer.
Waza or no waza?
You will never arrive at what I am working on by doing waza- for very specific reasons. Also, (at least in IME) Aikido waza will actually prevent or inhibit some body qualities, while DR doing waza will actually burn them in (albeit slowly) by default. The trick is to know which aspects to train for what, which are the keys to further growth, and which will not get you far at all. In other areas both arts waza will just not get you there at all.
Solo training and body conditioning for aiki works to change your body so you no longer function normally; you don't carry your weight, transfer weight, absorb or issue power-the same as normal people so. In so doing your body will neutralize force on you, any kind of force - including those attempting to do aiki to you. Onceo you learn to use that in action those qualities increase exponentially. Mores the point it will work in any art or in freestyle under pressure, or up against other internal arts-dependant on your skill level.
In the end it is simply a superior way to train as it produces a form of aiki in the body that is more potent then the aiki used in the waza. You change the way your body carries its weight, transfers that weight, and absorbs and issues power and it cancels out aiki waza on you in the process. This is not to diminish aiki waza. In and of themselves, those principles are a fine body of skills. I just find I don't need them in my work, and they are canceled out by this training anyway, even without having to resort to counter waza.
In other words the body method
is the superior attribute within the art of Daito ryu, hands down, and coupled with a fighting approach (weapons included) is extremely potent. I have yet to meet anyone in the aiki arts; student and teacher alike, with or without weapons, that was much of a challenge, or that I could not just simply neutralize and go through. So, when we do body conditioning we skip the waza and focus on the mind/ body connection. You can try to approach that by the use of "concepts and principles" learned from within waza, but I have yet to see it get anyone there.
To be clear, the faster way to high level skills is to work the mind /body connection to change your body, then learn how to move and use that connection.
Trying to get there by training waza is the slower method, -if it ever works at all-for most people.