For the thread, and to the OP, Sy,I would suggest, you, as politely as possible PM, Dan, Ellis and Howard Popkin to see if they can and will point you a dojo in your country/state/province/etc and go see for yourself. It is the only answer that will satisfy you, in the end.
I might do just that. =) That said, I'm still quite happy to have opened up this discussion though. I had no intentions of making this a DR/TMA/ki fireball bash fest. Starting as a skeptic myself, after experiencing hints
of aiki in the last year of training, I thought that there must've been something else I've been missing, perhaps out of stubbornness or ignorance. This thread appeared to be a bit of reality check, which wasn't what I hoped to find, but useful to realise nonetheless.
And in the meantime; I would suggest to you that there are many different ways of attacking the body…and maybe…just maybe…the ‘magic' you ask about is real; and learnable. If you can find the right teacher.
I'm lucky to have teachers and a group that are very good to train with. Although I'm a little ambitious and hasty, there's still plenty to learn at my dojo. But I'm sure I can use what I've gleaned here in the discussion to build a better/more realistic base for my further explorations down the track.
In the meantime, I'll go PM the people you suggested in a bit just to pick their brains anyway.