Funny that you should bring that up. I'm finishing up a book about Ueshiba's aikido and how it compares to Modern Aikido, especially in how Ueshiba's "aiki" was different. Look for it soon.
From a Modern Aikido perspective, though, if only a very few people under Ueshiba ever got some of his "aiki", then how would 99% of the aikido world know what "aiki" actually was?
Some things to think about ... if you are training techniques and are relying on timing to make them work, that isn't Ueshiba's aiki. How many are taught to get out of the way of the attack by timing the movements just perfectly so that some kind of blending can occur? Great jujutsu, but not aiki. (That isn't to say that jujutsu is useless. aiki alone is not a martial system. You become aiki and then whatever martial system you choose, you express aiki in it. You still need jujutsu.)
Remember, too, that when Tenryu could not push Ueshiba over, could not get the better of him, Ueshiba stated that it was because he knew the secret of aiki.
Ueshiba and his peers (Sagawa and Horikawa) both noted that aiki was a body changing method, not a technique based method.
When asked what aikido was, Ueshiba replied, "I am aiki".
Excellent post Mark, your thought lines seem to be the same as mine! I've recently read that dancers who are at the top of their game display aiki and that O Sensei awarded a dancer an 8th dan after watching a performance... not sure as to the legitamacy of this...? ?
I totally agree at the body changing method, one which I grappling with at the minute, but I'm just a mere novice and suffer from the old time and money syndrome
Please inbox me when the books out, I would be very interested in reading!
I do know these Aiki skills are fairly common within China especially, but I wonder why O Sensei was thrust to the status he was when he obviously wasn't the only person with these skill sets?
Was it for his martial ability in general, as like we know, he wasn't the first to display thses abilities??