I think a really big problem in the Aikido community is the fact that we all call Aiki different things.
To some Aiki is what others would call kokyu, or internal skills. While others don't think Aiki hinges on this at all.
Others relate Aiki to rhythm and timing. Or the ability to project or lead intention. Some even call Aiki the type of techniques we use. There are lots of things that we call Aiki, but when we talk to each other we are not talking about the same things.
I know above you related Aiki to the "body quality" show by Takeda, Ueshiba etc. What exactly does that mean? I would guess you're talking about their ability with kokyu. But you could mean the way they move their body, or the way they use their body (leverage, angle, development). There are lots of things we can be talking about.
I'm not saying anyone is right or wrong in their definition of Aiki, just that we need to come to a common understanding so we can talk about this. For example the Iwama kind of Aiki, or the Aiki of the kodokai, or Aikikai Aiki, etc. We have no foundation on which to start our conversation.
We all throw these things around like everyone has the same understandings and definitions, but we don't.
It's a really good post (although I clipped the part about martial).
And I'll start by stating that until a few years ago, I would have thought of "aiki" in a similar manner as you've described -- way the body moves, angles, deflections, timing, , rhythm, techniques, etc. In the end the phrase, "I didn't know that I didn't know" was right on target.
However, after getting the experience of training with someone who has aiki changed everything. In a matter of minutes, everything listed above fell away. In the coming year or so, more people with better experience than I had in aikido all came away with the exact same notions about aiki.
Do I expect people who haven't had this kind of experience to understand what I'm talking about? No. I could never have come to an understanding until personally experiencing it, but in the end there really is a right and wrong with aiki.
Why do I go on about it, then?
Because aiki is *the* secret to the martial arts that is a foundational change to make you better. The Holy Grail, the Fountain of Youth, the Hope Diamond of the martial arts. Aiki is what allowed Ueshiba to implement his spiritual vision amidst a martial encounter and bring the highest ideal of non-violence of nullifying an attacker without damaging either person to reality.
The way of aiki (and I mean both aikido and Daito ryu) has the potential to be *the* preeminent martial arts.
Those people who are still alive and who have trained with Ueshiba, Kodo, Sagawa, Shioda, Tomiki, Shirata, etc have all felt the capabilities of aiki in some manner. And those who haven't can research just what these people did.
So, I go on about aiki to get people to toss out what they think they know about it. To look at it from a perspective that says, I don't know anything about aiki because (to list a few examples):
1. I can't replicate what Ueshiba did when he encountered Tenryu (and others).
2. I can't replicate sitting on the floor cross legged and not be pushed over.
3. I can't replicate what Tomiki did when he held out his hand for judoka to throw him and they couldn't.
4. I can't replicate what Ueshiba did to Nishimura with the folded paper (which, btw, Takeda also did to show off his skills).
5. I can't replicate Ueshiba not being lifted off the floor by four strong men.
6. I can't explain how Ueshiba got great in less than 10 years (which btw, Tomiki and Shioda also did).
7. All the people in modern aikido who have gone out and gotten their hands on someone who has aiki, have come away with the realization that everything they knew about aiki was wrong. Every single one, including shihan level aikido people.
So, yes, I'm trying to get people to toss out most everything they know about aiki. Why?
Because modern aikido has yet to give anyone any hope that they can reach a skill level on par with Shioda, Tomiki, Shirata, let alone Ueshiba. It's all dreams built upon notions of keeping at it for a lifetime that no one has yet to achieve.
But training in aiki makes those dreams a reality.