Hi Bernd, your story sounds so familiar! I did the same thing starting in 2008. I was about 2 or 3 years late to the party according to dates of threads on aikiweb, but started reading like crazy. I would never have done that if my BS detector had gone off. Anyway I think it is the best way. By that I mean: when you go to a seminar, be it Dan or anyone, you can either go without
knowing what to look for, or go with a framework for understanding already in place. If you have that academic framework (and any practical framework as well), then you would get more out of any seminar. I am happy that my seminar experience was something that fit into my pre-existing understanding. (It made me see more clearly what to work on)
I think such a framework can come from an established tradition, such as Tohei's lineage.. or you can build it from scratch yourself by reading about things. Although that way, you probably won't be able to correctly do things yourself yet, but you would know what you are trying
to do. Then, meeting people can quickly adjust things in yourself that make your predictions/expectations come true.
people using the same words, some of them having a clear understanding, knowing exactly what all this means, and others not knowing that they haven't got a clue.
I would add that there should be lots in the middle as well, not just at these extremes. That's why conversation is so good.
And that brings me back to the topic at hand: regarding aikido, let's say Ueshiba O-sensei was truely on the right track and is our exemplar. Let's say aikido almost 60 years after his death is a diverse community, with several young traditions. Let's say none of them on their own fully encapsulate O-sensei's own path, because he didn't intend to start those separate lineages. I think none of those statements are really controversial, and I think they are really in the spirit of Aikiweb to say. My point is that by sharing across this diverse population, we can do better than if we embed ourselves in these young traditions that are started by people who were each only a follower
So that said, I expect:
1. Different internal training practices would exist in the different lineages - though a core few would be shared (like funekogi)
2. Different understandings of these practices (even the shared ones) would occur across the different lineages
3. Each person could read broadly (rather than only the writings within his lineage), and then form conclusions about what is correct in terms of understanding our exemplar, vs what is incorrect. Most often, we would probably find understandings that are neither fully correct nor incorrect, but a bit vague. This is the precarious state where misunderstanding can occur easily, but the words themselves are not wrong. So, one person can indeed understand well what the exemplar was saying, but another who agrees with the same words can mean something else.
I just thought of one more thing. Ron, I agree with the idea that "correct feeling" is a description of an experience that should be had, and that words like "keep one point" would then serve as reminders of how/what to recapitulate as one continues practice. In other words, words serve only to refer to feeling, so the net is limited in this regard.
This brings up the this idea, central to any discussion of internal things: if 2 people have the same experience (as similar as possible that is) as beginners, say at a seminar, and then go home to their respective origins afterword, their practices can diverge with time. One may master the skill associated with that experience, and one may end up doing something else. Or maybe more commonly, one may get pretty good at it, thinking that is about the limit of that skill, and combine it with other things to get a great effect, while the other guy simply takes that one original skill to a new level. They verbally would both refer to the same thing, but one would demonstrate it differently (and to different effect) than the other. Just some thoughts. Personally I try to at every stage think "what if it can go further still?" Doesn't mean I'm doing anything special just saying how I look at these things. In other words I think one person can be "correct" and still learn from another, just because the degree to which things are developed can vary.