Re: Ki Aikido - quote from Gleason Sensei
I think this is tricky because in my opinion, clarity about what O Sensei was actually doing, and where it was sourced from, is not generally present.
Was Shioda Ueshiba's "equal" because he could apparently perform Aiki in at least a similar manner as him? Was Tohei (whose Aiki skills were pretty good back then)? Does being "as good or better" than "those types of Shihan" mean that one is then at least as "good" as O Sensei, or even better? And what does "better" actually mean?
My answers come from my own relationship with what Aiki and Aikido are, and the idea that, for me, there is no Aikido without Ki and Aiki, but there can certainly be Ki and Aiki without Aikido. Aiki skills, internal skills, Ki and Ki power etc., are various descriptions of fundamental elements of Aikido, but they are not Aikido itself.
To me, O Sensei's Aikido became the conscious application of those skills in a certain manner, with a certain intention. This includes both martial and spiritual application, and for me, the sense that the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts.
To do (this kind of) Aikido, one must have a handle on Ki and Aiki skills, and (more than just the technical skills of Aiki-style jujitsu) the specific martial skills that emerge from them. But that is not enough. The "appropriate" intentionality behind it must also be present in it's application and the experience that one has, and that one imparts, to both student, and "recipient."
In modern training and practice, I personally don't see much in the way of (what I feel are) Ki and Aiki skills, nor of what I think of as Aikido. The skills are there to learn. Someone to teach them, very few and far between. How far one goes with them I suppose depends on many things, not the least of which is how much time one has, and what sacrifices one is willing to make in one's life.
In the end, we each follow our own path, for better or worse.
As far as unbendable arm goes, I don't think the issue is it's "anachronistic presence" in a modern-day demo, but whether or not it's being taught at all, and if so, is it being taught correctly.