You went from great athletes to good athletes. Why would you do a thing like that?
I see your point. I didn't notice that I changed the qualification.
But to me it's a matter of degree from good to great. I mean, if a great athlete would have great IP, a good athlete would have good IP.
If you study Chinese philosophy you will find that having a great skill is related to having a certain attitude, a certain quality that in many aspects is similar to what we would call a gentleman, a scholar, or in general what we would call chivalrous behavior. Your original ki is by nature sort of rough. Through shugyo you polish the ki and it expresses itself by good behavior, a sense for harmony (to name just some of the qualities) and in your particular skill. It does not matter at all what the particular skill is. So if someone specializes in an athletic activity then that can be his shugyo - if he is considered great at it, than his ki must also be very finely polished. It should show in his behavior and his skill. Your skill could be anything; Aikido, Shodo, Shinto shugyo, etc.
If you look at old athletes that were champions in their time, then you will notice that their stamina and physical strength is no longer the same as it was before. I just read that the Brazilian football player Pele had to go to hospital. He was a great athlete, but it would be unthinkable that he would nowadays manage to play a full match or that he would join a team of pro's in their twenty's. Yet if the task would be; take the ball and try to go passed him, just about everyone will have a hard time doing it. According to Chinese philosophy this is because his ki is still refined and polished. And by the way - Pele is very much a gentleman.
In a similar way you should be able to recognize the polished skills of a ceramist, calligrapher, archer - even if he is aging.
Does this mean that I agree with Chris? Well, I do not know - it seems to me that he is still searching for answers and is trying to come up with the right questions.
What I do see on this forum are many statements that are quite vague about what IP / IS is or how to attain it. Often it is not even clear if with IP / IS is meant ki or something else all together. Fact is that many, if not most of the statements on IP / IS have very little or no relationship to the original Taoist or Buddhist ideas on this subject. No wonder that there is so much confusion.
At the same time I also sense a certain reluctance to answer Chris' questions. The much heard remark "It has to be felt", although I agree with it in principle, is starting to sound like a cop out and an argumentum ad nauseam. Besides, if it is about ki, then it is not so much about feeling at all.
More importantly, in the passed 2500 years there have been so many books written adding more and more knowledge over the centuries, that it is odd to see the people who claim the most experience in this, be so reluctant to share their knowledge about IP /IS in this thread. It does not seem gentleman-like behavior that should come with true shugyo.
I think the IP / IS of this thread would be called neijin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neijing
) in chinese martial arts. Which to me seems a more specific concept than the Taoist or Buddhist qualities you are referring to. So I don't think that talking about these more general qualities will reduce the confusion about the more specific topic of neijin. In my opinion neijin has little to do with refined craftmanship and charismatic virtue.