Hi David, although I feel like you approached the edge of falling into woo-woo land, in the end I like it. I think a big part of what should be taught in the dojo is how to become familiar with the poles, since like you said we start out totally out of touch with them. We work on our own after being shown, so that we get familiar with the actions of both fire and water as it were, and THEN we go back to the dojo to practice application, where we do "both at the same time," instead of isolating them, just like you said.
Fire flows upward, dissipating; water flows downward, concentrating.
Tension is fire, compression is water.
It's so weird how much I agree with the first statement but disagree with the second. Does the second one represent how you think about tension and compression in say, practicing from katatedori?