I would say your opinion on breathing from the one point/focusing on the point is very correct. I would say you understand, however the practice method (as outlined in the video/having fun after practice or not formalized practice), just didn't seem correct. I have had many informal instructions after class by my instructor at the time (Tabata Sensei/Honolulu KI Society), but if he applied a technique, we still had to fall the way we normally would during class. If we didn't, we would get a ear full or a smack on the head to wake up and perform the fall correctly. He was very old fashion in his teaching methods (older style Japanese sensei). We knew this and accepted his method of Teaching KI Aikido. At the time he was 73. He insured the waza was effective, if it wasn't and you were just going with it, he could tell your mind and body wasn't coordinated and he would then show the technique to you and your partner (to a painful end result). So when I hear others dismiss KI Aikido as ineffective, I ask myself "Where did these people learn"? It definitely wasn't from my sensei. Everyday before practice he made it a point to ask all the students how much KI breathing they did thru the week. If you were told him none, it would suck to be you that practice session. He knew the great benefit from KI breathing (misogi). The more you did it, the more aware you were of your one point.
I guess looking back now, I never realized how good a sensei he was. He was the hardest sensei I ever learned from, but he made sure you understood KI and what effective waza was. He was one of the first U.S., students of Tohei sensei both when he was still with the Aikikai and when Tohei Sensei split from the Aikikai and formed Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido. In many instructor classes he would show the changed techniques from when he first learned under Tohei sensei (Aikikai) and how Tohei Sensei changed the technique with KI Aikido. Both techniques were effective, but with the KI method more flowing and relaxed with the same painful result (no invisible touch crap, I still haven't seen how that works or why that is even taught by some who profess to follow KI Aikido). The one waza where I only saw this no touch technique was the hand extended thru the forehead of the akemi. The reason for this is because if you don't fall, you get the intent of the technique for the person who attacks you on the street (finger/hand projected thru the eye socket).
One big point my sensei stressed, that many from under the Aikikai umbrella disagree with (although I have meet a few who do agree and practice misogi/KI breathing), is that you can only progress so far in learning KI extension by waza alone.
So in closing I would say, if you throw the words KI Aikido around, it has to be with effective waza also. There is nothing magic about KI, without effective waza to show how KI really works when it flows. But from my experience, to truly enhance KI extension/relaxation the KI breathing has to be part of the regiment to increase relaxation and the extension of KI to its fullest. This equals more effective waza. Funny how that works. The more KI breathing, the more smooth and effective your waza is. The more waza effectiveness, the more proper extension of KI. So the emphasis of the training on both is essential (from my experience with Aikido). Not just the waza.
May God bless you Graham.
Hi Ed. I like the clear writing. I also like the picture of your old sensei. A bit like mine.
I understand what you expect to see in videos and if I had posted some ten years ago they probably would have been similar to how you describe.
Throwing the words Ki Aikido around? I think you may have assumed something there. Look up the thread of mine called strength verse Ki. I think you might like it.
I do like what you say in the last paragraph and cannot disagree that they all go together. Well put.
Thanks for the well put response. G.