I participated in one of Dan's seminars and thought that the body skills he was teaching were real and interesting. I also think that they aren't related to anything the Founder was doing.
Can I ask you to detail out why you think that? Here's my answer which also ties into the thread subject.
Ueshiba says that if you do not stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven, aiki will not come forth. The Floating Bridge of Heaven is also the foundation for take musu aiki. Ueshiba then says that the Floating Bridge of Heaven is the turning of fire and water in a spiral. Fire and water are in and yo. Chris writes at the end that, "the Floating Bridge of Heaven, also known as Heaven-Earth-Man, consists of creating a state within yourself by which you connect opposing forces and express that connection in spirals through the body."
Note that nowhere did we find Ueshiba talking about any of the principles of aiki being like this: "consider trying to stop a train that is coming down the tracks. Standing on the tracks and trying to stop the train by physically overpowering it will not be expected to work. However, running next to the train, jumping aboard, moving to the engineer's compartment, overcoming the engineer and applying the brakes will produce the desired result of stopping the train. This is comparable to AWASE in that no attempt is made to directly oppose power, but control is gained by merging into the power and disabling it."
Instead, you are the center of the Universe. The Universe is you.
Now, we see that standing on the Floating Bridge of Heaven in Shinto is to stand with in and yo together. Something Ueshiba kept talking about.
It's also worth noting that Tohei mentions his view of what Kisshomaru is doing at Tokyo hombu is "the Way of fitting in with another person's Ki". If you reread the view of awase by David Alexander, specifically his train example, it fits near exactly with the supposed interpretation of aiki by Kisshomaru in Tokyo.
Now, we read that Ueshiba stated, "The "Iki" (breath) of Aikido's kokyu-ho winds up in a spiral on the right, winds down in a spiral on the left, and gives rise to the connection between Water ("I") and Fire ("ki")." Opposing forces, contradictory forces. Why do we care? Because Ueshiba stated, "It is said that Aikido is "Standing on the Floating Bridge of Heaven". The Floating Bridge of Heaven is the turning of fire and water bound together. Fire moves water, water is moved by fire. Fire and water are one thing. They turn in a spiral. They are entwined through Ki. That is something that is enacted through the breath ("iki"). This breath ("iki") is Aiki."
Throughout, he talks about the principle of aiki as it being the balance of contradictory forces within oneself.
Aikido Today Magazine; #31 Dec.93/ Jan. 94
Interview of Henry Kono sensei by Virginia Mayhew and Susan Perry.
ATM: When you had conversations like these with O'sensei, what would you talk about?
HK: Well, I would usually ask him why the rest of us couldn't do what he could. there were many other teachers, all doing aikido. But he was doing it differently - doing something differently. His movement was so clean!
ATM: How would O'sensei answer your questions about what he was doing?
HK: He would say that I didn't understand yin and yang [in and yo]. So, now I've made it my life work to study yin and yang. That's what O'sensei told me to do.
Notice that Kono knows that many of the other teachers there were doing something very different. What was Kisshomaru's interpretation? What was Ueshiba's interpretation? Different?
There are numerous Aikido Journal articles that detail out Tenryu's meeting with Ueshiba. Ueshiba was seated, not standing, not moving around. Seated. Tenryu could not push him over. Tenryu was over 6 foot tall and about 240 pounds. A giant compared to Ueshiba. When asked why Tenryu couldn't move him, Ueshiba said it was because he knew the secret of aiki. Seated, not moving around the train that was Tenryu. Instead the train that was Tenryu moved around Ueshiba who was like the Universe.
Part of what I learned from Dan at the beginning was to build contradictory forces within myself. Primarily, I started learning up and down (at the same time) with the spine. There was also outward and inward through the hands to/from the spine. Opposing forces with me at the center.
Then, word came back that a student of Ueshiba said this kind of training I was doing was what Ueshiba used to do. No, I'm not going to say who that was. Do the research like I did.
At one point in my aikido career of about 20 years, I was able to train with someone who had been around while Ueshiba was alive. And what did some of that training consist of? Up/down with the spine. Out/in through the arms. Spirals. All from outside Tokyo hombu. There are other students outside of Tokyo who had similar training exercises to what I was doing. I'm sure there's more than what I found.
Ueshiba teaching contradictory forces of up/down in the spine and out/in through the arms. In/yo.
Looking back at the research of Ueshiba talking about aiki being contradictory forces, it's not hard to put it all together. Learning exact exercises from two different sources, Ueshiba (via his student) and Dan (via Daito ryu), regarding contradictory forces managed within oneself while trying to be the center of it all. Then top it off with reading the translations from Chris and having Ueshiba's words hammered home about aiki being opposing forces. And that was just one part. There is more.
Let's go back and reread what awase means to David Alexander, "consider trying to stop a train that is coming down the tracks. Standing on the tracks and trying to stop the train by physically overpowering it will not be expected to work. However, running next to the train, jumping aboard, moving to the engineer's compartment, overcoming the engineer and applying the brakes will produce the desired result of stopping the train. This is comparable to AWASE in that no attempt is made to directly oppose power, but control is gained by merging into the power and disabling it."
Kisshomaru's interpretation = the Way of fitting in with another person's Ki
Ueshiba's interpretation = Contradictory forces in a spiral with you at the center.
David Alexander's awase = Who do you think it sounds like? Does it sound like Ueshiba's definition of any of the principles of aiki?