At the risk of losing focus on the thread, I think there are 2 points in here I am working to resolve myself:
1. There is a notion that 100% commitment from uke is required to "do" aikido. The presumption here (at least I hope the presumption here) is that in parity, uke is applying 100% of the technique upon herself, leaving a negligable workload for nage. By reasoning, one could assume that *0% commitment would require *0% response, etc. and so on until you reach the point of obstenance where uke commits 0% to her attack. I do not know of any system of combat that advocates a 100% commitment to attack with abandon. Rather, most systems advocate a balance of commitment and reservation. Even when I work out with a partner who can apply irresistable pressure to my center, I always feel like they have more but are holding back.
2. There is a notion that the primal brain and nervous systems are somehow inferior to "higher" brain functions. The presumption here is that my superego (i.e. "me") has greater control over my body and its functions and therefore it is desireable to elevate my intellect. But then we rely upon basic exercises that are designed to condition the body's basic reactions... It falls back to the concept of hitting a baseball... There is not sufficient time to consciously decide to hit a fastball and commit to that action. Rather, I think we are specifically conditioning our basic systems to function more intelligently without our conscious involvement. It's about being, not doing. Isn't that where aiki takes hold of us? When we stop doing and start being?
These are both issues for me because they do not reconcile when you work out with someone who has aiki. When I touch some of these guys, it does not matter if I push, pull, stand there, cry, whatever. I will not affect them. The only percentage that applies is how much of my ass gets kicked. When the same guys attack... They do not even have to move and I get my ass kicked. They are doing it on both sides of the ball, and my involvement is inconsequential to them. Similarly, consciously participating in my ass-kicking does not solve the problem. The ol' lizard brain is good for some things, many of which I think we exclude because some of that talent is God-given and damn it if its not fair that we weren't given more of it. For being about our super-ego, I am not sure if its our ego that gets in the way.
I am still pissed off that God saw fit to deny me the 6 ft., 200 lb. frame that would've let me pitch in Major League Baseball. Instead, I take solice in criticizing the poor pitch counts of those players that were given the body that was supposed to go to me.
Regarding #1, yep, no commitment or cooperation from uke is required. Uke can stand there like a martial inept doing nothing, and aiki still works. As you noted, that is because aiki is never done to uke, aiki is done to nage, by nage, and uke is affected by it. That is why it is "internal" - it is stuff nage is doing inside, to himself, with an expression outside, that uke can't resist. And ironically, this aiki skill is learning to rather not commit any of our intention to uke, we keep it in ourselves, and give it to the universe as a whole, but never to uke. Uke never gets our commitment.
Morihei Ueshiba wrote:
Do not stare into the eyes of your opponent: he may mesmerize you. Do not fix your gaze on his sword: he may intimidate you. Do not focus on your opponent at all: he may absorb your energy. The essence of training is to bring your opponent completely into your sphere. Then you can stand where you like.
Committed attacks, especially 100%, are martially unsound; you are just giving control of yourself to someone else a priori, the complete opposite of what you, as an offensive strategist, are trying to do. And just on a practical martial level, non-committed and deceptive attacks are what a skilled attacker in any venue will give you, so this is what we need to be good against, not human cannonballs that use a dead-reckoning strategy of throwing themselves "relentlessly forward" at a target like a zombie.
Regarding #2, yep, higher brain trains the lower brain through conscious conditioning/focused practice, and also the usage of intent to provoke responses from the more un/sub-conscious aspects of the body. All the same, it is not merely getting rid of some higher brain overlay or lower brain interference either, you have to put stuff in, then get rid of the non-useful responses like struggling against or giving commitment back to something that opposes you. But only getting rid of the habitual response to struggle against resistance is not the skill of aiki, it is merely something that detracts from the ability to practice the skill of aiki.