Re: Ueshiba's Aiki
Actually, I thought Graham's summary of the discussion was spot on, as they say across the pond. "They are trying to prove that the internal stuff or aiki that Takeda had is the same that O'Sensei had and used as Aikido." Yeah.
Claim 1: The core of what made O-Sensei's art effective came from Takeda Sokaku through O-Sensei's Daito-Ryu training and is apparent in Takeda himself as well as some of his other students. This is what Dan calls "aiki"--because that's what Takeda and O-Sensei himself called it.
Claim 2: Aiki skill was not passed on effectively and is largely absent from Aikido as it is taught today.
Claim 3: Aiki skill will transform your art into something much more effective and powerful, and Dan has a methodology and language for teaching it. Unlike studying Systema or MMA to inform your Aikido, studying aiki is studying O-Sensei's own art and the foundational skill of his AIkido.
You don't, obviously, have to believe any of this, but arguments have been made to support all these claims. What are your counter-arguments? Really, the only one can bring to mind from the last few years of discussion here on aikiweb is, "Tens of thousands of aikidoka can't be wrong" -- or its variant, "My teacher can't be wrong" -- neither of which are persuasive to me.
And you have to account for all the senior aikidoka who have been hunting Dan out, saying, "This is what I was looking for all along" and, "Now that I know this, I can see things that were there all along but that I couldn't understand before."
The rest of the argument is really about history and transmission, and is independent of the above. I buy the above, for example, but don't buy all the other claims that have been made. I think that though O-Sensei started as a Daito-Ryu man, he had clearly created a new art before the war; that this alteration of the art was the main factor in the split between him and Takeda; that the techniques and method of practice that were passed on through Hombu came from him, not his son, and that they are, if not the essence of Aikido, at least its shape; that he continued to evolve his art and imbue it with deeper spirituality after the war, but not to change it in essence.
In particular, I think the ukemi and cooperative practice that are characteristic of Modern Aikido are valuable training tools. But that's all they are--training tools. They aren't an end in themselves.