And I have no doubt that there is something to IT that is worth investigating, but is it really that much of a leap in power and ability?
I'm sure we'll all enjoy Dan's answer to your question, but I would like to point out that it is NOT a "leap in power and ability" as I understand it. It is more like the doorway a totally separate and unrelated world. You just can't enter the world of aiki with regular body mechanics, so you either go down the path, or you choose not to re-forge your body and thus choose not to follow the path. And yes, I admit that is still a controversial thing to say, but take it from O-sensei.. he beckons for us to go down the path:
Doka of the Day - December 15, 2009
The Pine, the Bamboo, and the Plum.
The make up of Ki that we are training to purify
From where do they arise?
The Water and Fire of the change in the self.
The meaning I'm sure can be looked at from a lot of angles (spiritual, moral, intellectual..) but for the physical angle-- you have to change the body to approach the goals that O-sensei was espousing. No matter how well you appreciate the goals, you don't get them from imitating the form of the goals (those trees' atttributes), rather you have to turn to "water" and "fire," which are on the surface not the goals you are shooting for. But they are the gateway to the path, so you either go down it or you forsake it.