I dont doubt that, and have read it all. What is new to my is that you seem to argue for a spiritual/ metaphysical relevance of aiki, which is not what I myself find in the authors you quote. I even seem to remember Mr. Amdur arguing IS has nothing to do per se with personal development, character.
Again, I am agnostic as for the historical examples, I have not been there.
With all due respect, I think you are charging "aiki" with a metaphysics that is entirely your own. Invincibilty can lead to freedom? I doubt it. It can lead to megalomaniac fantasies that are not very spiritual at all (and which, ironically, O-Sensei probably also had...), and will likely cause harm if one does not engage with them very very carefully.
But thanks for the discussion!
If we're talking major character development or personal, spiritual growth, I think you're right. Aiki isn't the primary factor. And as you note, having exceptional martial ability can also lead to bad character traits. I think that's why it was said not to teach the secret of aiki to just anyone.
I'll have to reread HIPS again, but I do disagree that aiki/IS/IP has *nothing* to do with spirituality or personal development. I just don't know *how much* it has to do with those things.
But, the flip side of that coin is the ability and the potential to aid in spiritual growth. This is where Ueshiba shined. He took a system built for combat and death and infused it with his own personal spirituality to create another option.
I don't know all the schools of Daito ryu, but I'm sure they have techniques where an uke gets thrown, joint locked, and subdued. So, what then is the difference in Ueshiba's aikido?
What was the purpose of the change that Ueshiba made? What was that option? When someone attacked him, they were brought into a spiraling maelstrom that was Ueshiba, but then, riding on the outward spirals, they were released. As soon as the attacker connected with Ueshiba, he/she knew, felt, and understood that he/she was out of his/her league. And moved like a puppet to be finally released from the merger of both energies. If you were handled like a child, knew it, knew that you could have been completely and utterly defeated, could have been broken from the power felt in the encounter, but instead was released, would you go back for a second attack? What if the person you attacked was smiling or laughing, not at you, but from being peaceful and happy?
No one misunderstood for long that Ueshiba knew the martial if that was required. Ohba at the Manchurian demonstration proved that. Ueshiba, however, didn't want to show that expression as his anger afterward conveyed. I think he wanted people to see that there was another option, another way of using aiki.
Aiki was the method to create people to be the best martial artists. The learned to be the best that they could be ... or so they thought. Martially, Takeda proved that he was one of the best. Spiritually? Read Hidden in Plain Sight. Read the back issues of Aikido Journal. Ueshiba took aiki from purely martial to both martial and spiritual. Aiki is formless and fit both vessels. It think Ueshiba strove to be the best he could be ... in a complete sense.
It isn't for everyone. Being one of the best martially is something worthy of attaining. Being the best both martially and spiritually? Not exactly easy to do ...