What and how, are you training, David?
First and foremost, Dan, thank you for the insights on Aiki. Given the opportunity and $permit$, I would love to learn from you hands on.
I have been training aikido waza for the past 17 years. For me, the progress has been from hard to softer; the mystical "aiki" of aikido is still elusive in the sense that I have it (at least I believe) once in while but not all of the time. The progress is slow as generally the practitioners here are more interested in the waza of aikido. Even in my own dojo, there is only a couple of us who are keen and we practise before and/or after the class. At the moment, we concentrate on improving our aiki-age and aiki-nage using katate dori (single hand grab) and ryote dori (two hands grab) from suwariwaza, hanmi-handachi and tachiwaza positions; we do static exercise (no pushing or pulling) from low resistance to full resistance by the uke. I have problem moving my partner when in tachiwaza ryote-dori he grabs both my wrists as if he is holdings a wheelbarrow or a shear, i.e. with his arms straight and extended, and with full resistance coming from the base of his feet. From a static position, I can't apply aiki age or aiki sage. I can only do so by extending the "wheelbarrow" or the "shear" by transferring/sinking my weight to my back foot and then releasing back it. Would you call this IS or merely using leverage?
For solo exercise, I will just do 30 minutes of 'pole/ball-holding exercise' yi chuan style every other day. I hope to do it at least one hour a day.
I promise myself that there will be no dan upgrading until I have a good level of aiki skill. Your guidance, sensei, is much appreciated.