Shiho nage was a difficult technique for me. Ron always did it a little different from Maruyama, Sensei. I would be almost getting it then we would go to summer or winter camp and I would get confused again. I could do the motions of it and it probably didn't look to bad yet it didn't feel strong. My hands always felt so weak. I remember complaining about my wrists. men's wrists were so much bigger and stronger.
I used to say I hate shiho nage or I can't do it. Of course that became self fulfilling.
I decided to change my mind about it. I couldn't say I loved shihonage yet but I said that "I am embracing shiho nage". "I am exploring shiho nage."
Sure enough, it got better. Especially after we stopped going to camps because now I was doing one way with minor changes instead of a whole change of technique.
The "Summer of Shiho nage" changed everything. Stepping into my fears and frustrations was the key. I broke it down to three steps: L step, hands on a horizontal plain, then bend ukes elbow. I taught and practiced shiho nage every class this summer. My understanding of the mechanics and how to use Ki instead of hand strength grew with day of practice.
I can't believe I can tell you I love shiho nage now. I can't wait for class today so we can revisit it and see how it feels on this day with each new uke.
I must say I disagree with you. Before going to such esoteric concepts like Ki, if it exists, students have to learn pure biomechanics of the technique. It means, how to create multiple leverages on different joints, then how to control and turn the hips of attacker with these leverages, next how to unbalance him and maintain this unbalance whole way down.
Beginners have to develop a strong grip that is coming from center, not from shoulders. Such development can be done i.e. with a lot of bokken/ jo practice. Of course always there will be somebody very strong that will be able to make you work hard, but that is a point -- there is no sense to practice always with complaisant attacker.
Without such basic mechanics, where students understand very clearly each stage of technique, and can reproduce
it at their will, there is no point to go further.
So yes, it is necessary to work hard with all your physical power first few years, to develop efficient techniques on resisting attacker.
Introducing Ki-like concepts only lead to distortion and watering down aikido.