I would like to talk about why anyone thinks something different then normal athletic activity is going on.
--OK, well I can tell you why I think so, but keep in mind it's just my own personal experience and your mileage may vary, and others will have other opinions, and all the other standard caveats. Anyway, here it is:
About three years ago I was fortunate enough to get the chance to meet and get tossed around a bit by a man named Kimura Tatsuo. For those not familiar, he was Sagawa Yukiyoshi's student, and wrote a book on Sagawa after the latter's death. Kimura applied something to me that I had never before felt, and I'll try to describe it. I would stand in any position I wished, and he would place his hands lightly on mine. He told me to resist however strongly I wished, and then he exhaled and I became instantly and startlingly off-balance, and then I was thrown. I'll try to make this as clear as I can via text, which is difficult; throughout the above process, I never felt him actually push
me at all. Ever. Not one little tiny bit. There was zero
change in the incoming force that I could detect. Nothing. Nada. It felt precisely as I already described. His hands lightly on mine, nothing changed, he exhaled, nothing changed, I was sharply and immediately off-balance, and then thrown. It felt a bit like an unseen hand was pulling my spine up and behind me from somewhere behind me.
For me, that was it. There was no going back after that. Once I'd seen and felt what was possible, everything about my training changed. Everything I wanted, everything I had thought aiki to be had been changed. Kimura had not done any nifty sweeping tenkan movements, hadn't thrown some half-assed atemi to my face to make me react so he could do something, hadn't relied on timing his movement to mine. He had simply done aiki, whatever that meant. And I wanted it. I still do. However, Kimura Tatsuo is not accepting new students currently. That's his business. All I could do is find others who possessed similar skills and try to attend their seminars, and that's exactly what I did and continue to do.
For me, that first step was really the most crucial. If I had never laid hands on anyone who could do it, I'd be skeptical as well. I understand people's skepticism, I really do. I had it myself once upon a time. But once I felt it, I could see without any doubt that it is indeed something different. It's not waza. It's not even good waza. It's not athleticism. It's not being stronger, or faster, or better at timing. It's just, in a word...aiki. It's a thing. Really and truly. Now, the easy thing for people to do is to write off my opinion as being that of a stupid, doddering old man who wouldn't know the difference, and that's fine. You can believe what you like. But I know the truth. It's real, it's a thing, and it's largely missing from most folks' training regimens. And I for one am working to correct that in mine.