Here again, Chris. Somewhat edited
Aiki as a clash of forces
Ueshiba and generations of giants before him focused on power (soft power-not normal power) and solo training to achieve power...for a reason. It was the central pillar of how to make aiki happen. You need a profound "neutral" in order to demonstrate and manipulate force within you, in order to create change in the forces outside of you that are attempting to enter in. The more developed you are, the more those forces are never allowed to enter in and are dealt with by your making change in you on the supported surface. This occurs first by generating power from dantian in opposing forces, and then manipulating them. That is the floating bridge. If and when you encounter someone equal or superior, who might have the capacity to enter you, you then have management within and movement to deflect forces.
Management of forces
Inside of you
Management first being inside yourself by standing. Learning to engage and manage opposing forces inside of yourself. Thus Ueshiba, when asked what is aiki getting down and drawing a circle and stating it was opposing forces inside a circle...inside of you. This goes from simple models to higher level models. All of which are hinged upon In/yo. Without a balance of forces you have athlectic frames and single force vectors; Jujutsu.
Deflection, projection, absorption
Deflection to create aiki is not done the way people try to move naturally. Moving *away* from a force vector is just jujutsu. Anyone can do it. Moving in accordance with in/yo means you now have a supported neural tangent point that is supported from dantian -in itself that is created in a balanced state- that now allows you to create a disruption using a balance of in/yo in internal and surface movement, that is all but impossible for them to track. This leaves them continually reacting to your movement and trying to respond to a non sourced change they cannot apply force on. So, in/yo creates a state within you, that makes a continuous flow of tangents outside of you that never allows force on you. Thus your movements make "no force" possible. No internal management of in/yo inside of you, no aiki between you and someone else-just jujutsu movement.
Were one to understand Ueshiba's spiraling movement, one would then see the source of "elbow power" and why the forces from the hand are not the same as the forces from the elbow. This, in turn, also creates aiki and devastating punches-as one. Moreover, it creates aiki on any body surface that is touched without the practitioner changing his essential movement on contact. Of course he can change it at will, but it is important to realize that aiki is being created without his thought being attached to anyone or any force. There is no joining of center to center, or any time gap to make something happen by moving your insides as an after effect of joining. A process, is a process. After effect processes may be okay for dojo waza; they will get you nailed in a fight or killed with weapons. It is better to have a method of movement that is proactive all the time. When one thing moves, everything moves, and that "everything" is sophisticated, and automatic. This is why Ueshiba stated That with aiki, you exert your will on others and make them do what you want. It was never some course, bully boy pushing his weight around idea. It was a dominating, and then peaceful sort of *happening* to those who tried to put force into you. Sort of like being a benevelent 600 lb Gorilla in the room.
Add to this the ability for explosive force (force that need not cause any harm at all) and you have a nice package that is devastatingly effective. Projection first occurs once again from the management of opposing forces creating a state in your frame and structure. It may expand outward in 360 degrees with thejoining of expanding tissue and the use of bows- corkscrewing or it may be focused to a point, in conjunction with the use of the dantian/mingmen and kua, or it can be applied in a rotating tangent, or it can be applied expanding *around* a contacted point suppressing or dampening all vectored resistance. This gives the person a feeling of being smothered, and also of you supposedly "reading" their responses and being "ahead of them" even though you really haven't dedicated any energy or focus to that model. This can also be a non static ever fluid state. Once again this movement is best when generated first automatically and then with focus.
This is the above in an opposite tract. It requires somewhat of a leading aspect toward you that is then deflected off as well. I am not a fane of leading in as much as deflecting off. Absorbing is a neat trick to show someone in a dojo, not a good idea with a high level person.
All of the above has many aspects of additional movement in opening and closing the body, spiral movement through dantian that brings the overall effect *off the charts* in trying to track the many different "aiki's" that are possible in using the body in a myriad of ways to manage force. This is too complicated to cover in written form.
Aiki in me before aiki between thee and me
Aiki and yin/yang. Where is yin and yang?
This missing requirement of in/yo inside of you first, was the source of the damning comment of a Taiji grandmaster who taught for 11 years in Japan (he taught two of Sagawas people) who stated...
"All this talk of aiki. Where is Yin? Where is Yang? How then is there ai-ki? You cannot pretend Dantian. You will be found out!"
Notice his critique was that you must first demonstrate yin and yang in you, and his instant correlation of that to the dantain. Where all is joined and balanced. Oddly, his admonition matches Ueshiba who continually answered question on aiki by first and foremost discussing a balance of forces within himself.
The balance of force cannot be just a circle. That can make you stable and strong, but it is -in a way- a lower aspect of high level work. Since it created power and deflection people can play with it for decades and stop there, and get the job done. But *one point* is really only a beginner step.
A fluid balance of force in spiral energy is far more sophisticated, damaging and deflecting at any point in the body. This is why Ueshiba said the mysteries of aiki are revealed in them.
Aikiweb and Aikido practitioners never address that because they just don't get it, get him, get the history and pedagogy of what their own founder was discussing, all while claiming higher knowledge that is actually nothing more jujutsu principles. So, when you begin a discussion with someone and they have no understanding of what Ueshiba talked about; Six direction forces, aiki being opposing forces within yourself, heaven/earth/man, the mysteries of which are displayed in dual opposing spirals that give birth to Yin and yang, No idea of his exercises such as rowing, and twirling his stick in the air, and what they meant, no idea of what Dantian is, and how to develop it...where do you begin?
Beyond the physical
What is fascinating as well is how this work creates the very foundational spiritual challenge Aikido should be known for. The agonizing amount of solo work involved "eating bitter before you can taste the sweet" becomes a familiar and intimate partner. The grueling crucible of harnessing power, and being able to deliver it, while choosing to hold back is the foundation for spiritual growth in withholding and controlling that power against an opponent.
So first we have mind/body in solo training discipline, then we have it in active involvement with others we can harm.
This is yet another aspect of Aikido that I greatly...greatly...admire. It is hard to withhold your hand from an adversary, but harder still from a junior or someone challenging your skill. Connect with someone you can easily dominate, but holding back while delivering governed force levels either with aiki or with power, to match their level. This requires strictly monitored self-control. That control, changes you.
I now have met so many capable men and women who were drawing to the art for this reason as well. It gives us a lifetime to experience that forging of spirit/mind/body.
Where is power...aiki?
I had a recent encounter with a 90 year old who trained with Tohei and Ueshiba who had strong opinions on aikido's founder having and displaying *POWER* repeatedly but the modern art being absent of it. He was delighted to once again feel Ueshiba's power being taught in the art once again, commensurate with solo training, and using the *power* to make aiki. Power must exist as a support or everything else fails and you cannot manage a balance of force within, or sustained contact points without, in order to create aiki.
That said, it was never the peacnick model of avoiding power and running away from force that was Ueshiba's aiki. His constant admonitions were of possessing power as a killing force and then having to forge ones soul to manage it's use and that practice and hone that control. An old saying goes "If I raise my hand. I withdraw my temper. If i raise my temper, I withdraw my hand."
There is a conundrum to Aikido and really many high level arts, that can feed us for the rest of our lives.
What is happening right now is an evolutionary step that is being forced on the Asian arts. The teachers are going to have to step up and demonstrate skills and then actually teach, or we are going to go somewhere else. No one is going to abandon the Asian teachers though. Just about every martial artist I know will pick an Asian face and established art, nine out of ten times. What we are going to force teachers to do is to start demonstrating a higher level of skill. As the recent Daito ryu shihan stated in his Aikido Journal article "most of the Shihan in the arts are simply not capable of aiki." Of those who are out teaching publicly, they are going to be facing a growing student base that they cannot handle so easily. Eventually the art is going to be known for people practicing with real power and aiki, the Ueshiba way, and those who can't handle them.
I would be happy to revisit that statement ten years from now. I believe we are about to create a whole different landscape.