Ahhh, I think
the most important thing in aikido is to give the body a repertoire of movements, it can use without "thinking".
Learning aikido for me is the same thing as learning to climb stairs being a little child: You learn it by doing it and your body never forgets how to do it and can handle all the different stairs you have to climb through your life. If you start to think how to do it, you will stumble.
When doing practice like this
or like this
you have to just feel and move.
This is the way our practice is structured most of the time: Feeling. Not thinking.
Does this make a difference or doesn't it affect your statements?
Well... Stairs - That's something - as is walking - that we learn fairly early on, and our brain (which is amazing) tells us to lift our feet a little higher or not as high, or to take two steps, and how high to lift our feet, etc., without consciously thinking about it, but the brain does process all this stuff before we hit the first step.
Similarly, if we've trained, and trained, and trained,...., and trained at Aikido, all the processing happens very quickly, and our repertoire of movement principles/techniques "comes out" as the processing happens, and we're called experts who are doing it without thought. Thing is, these aren't spinal reflexes such as the stretch reflex, they're more like conditioned responses, which do involve the brain.
Yes - each attack by a person trying to do the same thing is slightly different from the previous attack, but for most of us, these differences are subtle enough that we don't pick up on them or we don't change our response. Each different attacker is going to be different as well, and they are going to be slightly different each time they attack. I recall reading about O-Sensei demonstrating something, and when asked to do it again, he responded to what seemed to be the same attack with a different technique each time, explaining that he couldn't do the same technique each time because all of the attacks were different. I don't have anywhere near that kind of perceptiveness, but I think I understand the concept.
Oops - better go - rifle competition to get ready for