Re: What is Aiki? Introduction to a method of analyzing Aiki. (Part 3)
In some ways, I agree that there is still a struggle to articulate what is going on - as somewhat evidenced by where the overlap points are of the two articles - as well as the seeming gaps. Additionally though, I probably fall into a minority camp in that it seems that some of the body technologies for building the baseline skills are getting to better known with regards to how some of them work. I think if anything, what can be staggering, daunting or unclear - is how much work is to be done to recondition the body and sprint up the mountain to even glimpse the paths forged by the better known standard bearers that have come before..
For starters, what I see discussed a lot as "aiki", even in the "internal strength" sense, is to varying levels referring to a kind of application relying on a sort of advantageous position or configuration (can be via external shape or by in a more sophisticated fashion lining up your "insides" to achieve the effect, or some combo). Take your example of asagao and hand wringing - I've encountered more than one person with DR influences grasping at that one (okay, bad pun) and my point is typically that resulting correct movement of a good asagao is a connected body winding the balanced ground/gravity forces into and through a grab or held weapon. Even if you include the first author's admonition of relaxing and putting power into the tops of the wrists - you're still talking about an application of two of the main three general skill areas of internal strength (ground/gravity management + connected body). I know many arts have their own approach regarding breath and sounds, but at least what's generally shown seems to be the "harmless" or "performance approved" version that it's difficult to gauge regarding what's an artifact versus viable training enabler, except when someone tips their hand in a demo.
With regard to your mention of the sword - I know that to many the sword somewhat represents the standard and link to Japanese budo. It's not surprising to me that a lot of applications get related to the sword with regard to "wringing" (again, it makes for how a lot of "aiki" arts get structured from a wrist grab) and the subsequent optimal body positions that follow can be thought of as a study of Jin and body connection that riffs on the myriad applications available. Aiki as it's own thing seems to be how you connect with someone in such a way that if they move against you they defeat themselves. Using internal strength at its most sophisticated expression would be that optimization of ground/gravity, connection and breath/sound strength to enable the desired effect with the least amount of tactical or operational "doing" of things.
But if you'd indulge me a bit more speculation and if you look at some sources for combat methods (both applications and body skills) - if I were in a position to do the research and legwork, I'd probably spend more time looking at the spear for hints at more complete observations (as either physically expressed or embedded at some level in the training paradigm) of internal strength based on the physical requirements of that weapon.