Re: hips and shoulders
Like Gary, I also speak from my experiences on the mat feeling different practitioners and teachers, and I share with him the notion of just how extremely difficult things like connection are; all these notions are relative until people actually meet and discuss their relative standards and goals. These topics are better approached with everybody in the same room, and better yet with an inter-disciplinary crowd (not just aikido "uke") in order to keep everybody honest.
Perhaps I am misinterpreting what Mary and others are saying about the way they move. If so I apologize, but all the talk about hip movement sure pointed in a direction opposite to where I intend to go. Blending and hip-shoulder together while moving also sounded like all-too-common approaches to aiki and martial movement that I don't find too impressive. Again, perhaps there's more and we're all more or less on the same page, but I couldn't gather it from what was written here.