Re: The Founder's Teaching Ability
While I believe that Osensei was obviously a great visionary, I don't think he was a good teacher, particularly when it came to transmitting to his students how the physical principles of his art aligned with the spiritual principles.
In the book of interviews of living students who trained under the direct guidance of the founder edited by Susan Perry called "Remembering Osensei" (not to be confused with the biographical article of the same title by Fukiko Sunadomari) I noted a common reflection that could be paraphrased as: "We could all do everything Osensei was doing physically, but it never felt the same when anyone else threw you than it did when you were thrown by Osensei."
I imagine that this is because when Osensei made his shift from martial artist with the intention of killing to the intention of resolving conflict in a way that manifests "loving protection" there was no shift in the way he taught. Therefore he was teaching what he later called a spiritual art the same way he taught martial art.
The tradition of teaching through technique emulation is problematic at its core when one is ultimately desirous of practicing the highest level of aikido, that is take musu aiki, or the spontaneously manifesting aiki in which partners are truly joined and together reflect the workings of the universe rather than nage imposing something on his partner.
In our dojo, practice beyond the most basic beginning level is always from random attacks, so students never know what kind of attack will be coming from their partner. Since rejecting the technique emulation model and adapting a model that stresses an understanding of the spiritual nature of attack, I have seen my beginning and intermediate students perform aikido at dan levels from unprescribed attacks - including demonstrating classic aikido forms they were never taught or even shown. That is not to say that there are never any attempts by students to use the physical force or leverage advantages provided by body mechanics that come into play during an aiki interchange, but those attempts are quickly seen to be futile in attaining the ideal expressed by the Founder.
While all paths may lead to take musu aiki, are there routes that are shorter than the one offered in Osensei's dojo? I think so... and wasn't it Osensei's edict that we all continue to find the deeper levels of aikido that he himself did not live long enough to uncover?