Re: Where Did Ueshiba Morihei's Training Go?
Have you read Ellis Amdur's Hidden in Plain Sight yet? If not, you really should. Your questions and Ellis's book complement one another very well.
I've got to say, this stuff is somewhat confusing. I trained for nine years at an Aikido Association of America dojo, where I got very good training based on a Ki Society mindset. Toyoda shihan was a disciple of Tohei's. So we did push tests and incorporated the four principles of mind-body unification:
1. Keep One Point
2. Relax Completely
3. Keep Weight Underside
4. Extend Ki
Now I'm at a dojo using Ellis Amdur's curriculum combined with specific internal strength training.
It's not a drastic change in principle, but in practice it makes a difference -- and that's a difference that gets to some of your questions.
For my own part, I interpreted the principles so that I would tend to float up above uke and use my mass to power through technique -- something that doesn't work well with good attackers. When I wasn't doing that, I would rely on timing (or my size) to provide kuzushi.
In other words, I thought I was doing what the founder taught (to Tohei, who taught it to Toyoda, who taught it to my instructor), but I wasn't really doing that at all. I'll take responsibility for my own failings, by the way. But, magnify my experience by a couple of million aikido students and teachers, it's not so hard to understand how things have changed. If the "old man," his son, and the founder's closest students have passed on and can't check our progress, then how can we even know we're doing the right thing?
Ellis, in his book, seems to say that unless, or until we can do what Ueshiba M. did, then we're really not at his level. It seems that your questions are along that same line.