I am curious as to what you (and maybe your dojo mates) thought of what Mark presented as to how it could fit into helping your Aikido training. I am not looking for a critique of what he did since I know Mark and have trained with him on numerous occasions, just interested in how the materiel he presented was received from an Aikidoka's perspective.
Hi Greg. Well I can't speak for the whole dojo or what my teacher's thoughts are. Perhaps he will care to share his thoughts here at some point.
I am still in the experimental stage but there was one night that one of my teachers and I just spent the night taking Mark's exercises and incorporating them into various techniques. Since you have had experience with him perhaps you will understand my ,probably vague, descriptions.
What I think we both noticed most was that from uke's perspective they were sucked into the techniques in a smoother more flowing manner. I mean it was as if nage just vanished and the technique just happened without anyone making it happen. the ukemi was much easier and without any feeling of force at all. Quite difficult for me to describe. From Nage's viewpoint is seemed also as if uke just disappeared and was sucked into our movements without us actually bringing her with us, and we could move easily and freely.
We also noticed that we were finding some of the things we have seen Ikeda sensei do but were never quite able to figure out. my teacher that night, in particular, commented on that move your insides, internal spiral thing that seems so elusive.
Lately ,at home, I have been working with this excercise in conjunction with a tai chi movement that one of my teachers likes to practice. I don't know it's name but basically it is just transferring weight from one foot to the other in a very slow walking movement. I have a lot of knee pain and I am beginning to notice that the way I move has changed and in a way that takes the strain off of my knees and lower back.
Last night in class my ikkyo was noticeably smoother and more powerful without my old usual muscle added into it. My foot work was better as well. Sensei was my uke for a good bit of the night and he noted that I am turning around my spine more now than I ever did before. So I think it has also helped me to be more centered in my movements in aikido. I am just coming off of a long plateau (literally last night) so I look forward to seeing further evidence of what these exercises have done for my aikido. Also now that spring is here I will be on my horse more and paying attention to how it might have influenced my riding.
Anyway these are my thoughts as of right now. Not sure if others in the dojo have had similar experiences or something different. Hope this proved useful to you.