Thanks for your reply, that makes it easier for me to engage with your post. I guess I was a little sceptical at some stuff there I perceived as sweeping generalisations.
As for hands up and down, I may misunderstand you but I thought that was the standard form of tenshinage?
As for push exercises, we do them a lot in all sorts of ways. I have come to think of aikido as one continuous push test... All my teachers invite people to try and push them. And these exercises do come up as elements of "conversion stories" of people from other MA to aikido every now and then.
(Yes, that does happen). I know that similar practices are definitely present within at least four other lineages of Aikido in Europe.
Timeframe: I am all with you there. It is my observation that for those who get really good, though it may be framed in a long training history, it happens as a radical transformation within a limited number of years. However, I still see that happen today. (Though nobody became O-Sensei yet, admittedly, and it has not happened to me yet.)
Testing: to be honest, I am highly sceptical of most of these stories, because I dont really believe "no holds barred" testing, apart from a few spontaneous situations, happened, and everything else ultimately comes down to push tests again, where a specific situation of some sort is arranged.
Ultimately, there is so much myth-making around O-Sensei and so little evidence, that I personally would rather not base my training on what I believe I can reconstruct what O-Sensei did, except in the broadest way. I do not mean to say one should not aim high though.
Weapons: I have too little expertise to say whether O Sensei was so much better than his students or people living now. And no time to gain that experience at the moment, unfortunately ☹
Spirituality: I see your point, I guess I asked because I find it remarkable that it is now believed by many that O-Sensei 's internal bodywork can somehow be isolated from its creator, time and place, put in a systematic framework and practiced by all who have the stamina to do it, while it is impossible to do the same with his spiritual "technologies", and those can thus be disregarded as hermetic. So the body is a human universal and the mind is not? But anyway...
As for how others regard aikido – as Keith Larman said, there is crappy aikido, crappy Karate, crappy anything out there. I am confident my practice either gives me what I need already, or I will go and get it somewhere else, so I am not too concerned about that.
Long post, but so was yours ☺