Several months ago I went to an Ikeda seminar and one of the things he talked about that I really liked was to "make kata" or "make shape". Basically, you make the shape of the technique internally before the technique is even performed. Your intent is set before contact is made, so that as soon as you find uke's center your intent is harmonizing their force and sending it in another direction, internally.
hmmm hey, i was there but i thought he was giving us the recipe for his secret aiki cookie. what i heard was "blah blah blah...cookie blah blah blah cookie shapes blah blah blah cookie blah blah blah..." i couldn't get his recipe to work at all.