I think those are fair points.
My point is that training in Budo is just not a cut and dried thing. In my experience (which is admittedly limited) once one settles on an expectation from one's training, one will neglect other aspects of Budo. That's one of the great challenges of training IMO.
Generally, I dont disagree with your balanced appraisal. But the above sentence strikes me as requiring some explanation. "Aiki-skills" TM were the doorway to a "different" spirituality for the founder? What evidence is that based on? Different from what? Would you expand?
Interesting discussion everybody, thanks.
As seen through the research from Stan, Peter, Ellis, and a myriad of others, Ueshiba was more than capable of handling himself against challengers. Even during his time with Deguchi, Ueshiba was learning aiki, learning Internal Power (IP).
Read this very informative post regarding IP:
Aiki is formless and the basis of a very strong, powerful martial skill that is imbued within one's body, mind, and spirit. It transforms from a "skill" into One's Self. As Ueshiba replied, I am aiki.
Think about building a powerful, strong (not physical) budo body that instantly and appropriately changes incoming force and energy such that it is dissipated or returned or used in some manner to nullify the attack. Imagine Tomiki as he stood there and watched as judoka tried to throw him and failed. Takeda tossing Ueshiba around like a rag doll, even though Ueshiba was famed for his physical strength. Imagine the freedom of movement, freedom of martial ability that this conveys. And then imagine the freedom of spirit that is a byproduct of this. Now imagine Ueshiba putting all of that formless aiki, formless freedom of mind and body and spirit into his spiritual vision.
Ueshiba knew the formlessness of aiki. Knew that it could be poured into one's spiritual nature and have it fill that vessel. IMO, it's why he said no one had to follow his exact footsteps.