No, Chris, you misunderstand me. I'm not in favor of changing anything. I don't agree with what Stevens did. My point goes to notation or commentary, and includes everything from an explanation of six directions to simply saying, "We're not sure what this means." When I say "you could replace 'ashi wo roppo ni hiraku' with 'hanmi ni naru'' I'm not saying you should do that. And in fact my major gripe with Saito's special edition is that there is precious little of the original, and a whole lot of Saito's commentary.
You could replace it with a lot of things while keeping it, as you said, "semantically correct". I like to play Mad Libs too
My point was that this kind of phrase is a marker for a certain kind of training - and if you've done that kind of training the meaning becomes almost painfully clear. Now, once may be a coincidence, but the telltales are scattered through Ueshiba's writings with such frequency that I wonder why most people (including me) didn't realize that they were getting smacked in the face with this earlier.