What changed my view completely was when I was thrown for the first time by Endo Seishiro.
I didn't feel anything. There was nothing to feel. I was sure he didn't even touch me. Next thing I realised was being hammered into the tatami. I felt the enormous energy of this throw only when it was over and sensei stood some steps away.
Then. What I feel when practicing with someone who is experienced with Endo's way of aikido is not my partner. I just feel that somebody laid his hand on my body. But I don' t feel that this hand does something to me. It just is there. So I just feel my own body. It's like I'm moving in a very pleasant and natural way, but it is not be felt why I am moving. I am just moving. And although it feels very "good", I am finally collapsing, going down to the ground. At no time I have to think about danger, have to jump or feel pain. I just move myself although I am not moving myself.
Sometimes it feels like every physical (not mental!) energy leaves me and my body is no longer able to stay upright.
Ah, the feeling of no feeling, the feel of being thrown by nothing (but a HUGE amount of nothing!). I have never felt Endo Sensei (but hope to one day in the not too distant future). I have however, been feeling this from my own teacher (Sensei Ken Williams) for the last 20 years. He seems to have more nothing now than he did back then
The best part of being thrown like this, is that I always bounce back up smiling, ready to go again, somehow with more enery than I started with.
Another very interesting experience was being uke of Ikeda Hiroshi. He didn't move when grasped. And he didn't feel different in no way. It was just that I was off balance when he said I would be. And that I regained my balance, when he said so. On off on off ...
There was nothing to feel in his body, nothing that changed. But my body changed clearly.
I will be attending the seminar with Ikeda Sensei when he comes to the UK in April, I hope to experience what he is doing and compare it with my own understanding of what is happening..I look forward to it.
How different aikidoka approach the wrist grab has been of real interest to me, especially over the last few years. It is relevant to the discussion of feeling, as the quality of the grab/grip, governs so much.
In my own practice, I have been taught to hold 'with ki', which is a relatively soft physical hold, with a strong mental component. This seems at odds with how many others practice aikido (from my limited experience of feeling people outside of my own teacher's group). The 'strong' grip employed by many, seems to me, to create unneccessary tensions and restricts sensitivity and movement. It is easy to destabalise someone who relys on such strength. Their balance is gone and they have less chance of regaining it and having any chance of reversal.
There is so much about this subject that words do not do justice to. When in physical practice with another, how something feels is direct and current. Hands on, is to know the truth. Writing about it is a pale imitation.