Intent is everything. .
Motion in stillness
I've only clipped the above 2 quotes from Dan's post as they are fundamental to the fun that I am having with my aikido practice at the moment. I'll explain...
I have long been an adhearant to the 'Intent' is everything mantra. My first aikido teacher was fairly physically disabled. Polio as a child had left him with legs that had virtually no muscle. So he effectively was balancing on two sticks with a joint in the middle (his ankles had been surgically fused). He was totally committed to using mind/ki/intent as a way of power, as he didn't really have much alternative choice. His mobility was a bit of a head scratcher for the medical profession, some of them were convinced that he should not be walking at all. He had a very powerful mind, and his aikido was driven by it.
Consequently, my focus in my practice and subsequent teaching, has always had a stong bias towards the mind and what it is doing at any given point in the process. And as the 'style' of aikido I fell into is heavily Tohei influenced, the co-ordination of mind and body has been my primary reason for continued study. So relaxation and extending the mind have always been a part of what I do.
However, extending the mind, or even less helpfully 'extending ki' are pretty vague descriptions of what is really happening. It is the students job to figure it out for themselves, understand what is going on and then be able to pass on that knowledge to others.
On the recent seminar that Dan gave in the UK, the point that made the most impact for me, was the solo standing exercises, in which the mind directs movement, but all in stillness. I recognised on a deep level at that moment, that this was a valuable practice for me, and it had not been part of my aikido practice up till now.
So I have been playing with this on a daily basis, (not easy for an undisciplined soul like me) and going to my normal aikido classes and teaching as normal. Only now, I have a whole new set of things going on in my mind/body, that is allowing me to create and use new exercises to help my students along the difficult path of improvement.
The fun I am having now, is getting uke to come and grab, and before they get to physical contact I have set up an 'intent' which is going in a particular direction (up,down, spiral, whatever), and when they make contact, watching the surprised look on their faces as they start to move in 'my' predetermined direction of choice. I could do this sort of thing before working with Dan, but now it all makes so much more sense, I have more of an understanding of why it is working. I also relied more on some bodily movement. Now I am revelling in the "motion in stillness" -Thanks Dan
I steered clear of the bizzare Ueshiba's aiki thread, I was surprised Jun let it run on for so long. I do freely admit though, that when I first came onto aikiweb, I was sceptical and distrustful of both Dan and Mike. I wasn't as vocal about it as KM, but still, I had the 'certainty' of my knowledge and experience with an exceptional teacher. But curiosity overcame arrogance, and a meeting with both men, has left me an even more enthusiastic student of the aiki arts. I don't really care which way aiki-do/ai-ki-do is spliced up. I just want to improve what I do, which I am doing.
Thanks David for starting this interesting thread, let's hope the discussions can stay on deepening understanding, rather than politics and personalities (having said that Dan is a fun guy to train with