And how much time did we spend learning any structure with Dan in the beginning? Almost zero. Unless you were a complete and utter mess, he basically never said much about it. What did he start us on immediately? Pulling silk/six directions. What will we probably be working on forever? That.
I had a previous background in training the idea of structure from yiquan. It did zip for me, nada, with regards to this material. I had to dump it on the cutting room floor. It was a sacred cow for me, but I had to slaughter it. So that is part of why I don't like the implication that structure is a starting point or somehow prepatory material for this. IME, it's not.
Go back and look at what I said previously - that some approaches work alignment into other process training, and may not mention it at all... but it is inherently in the excercises being done. When you work the 6 directions, you are drawing in and extending out -- complementary dynamic tensions of In and Yo -- and that is creating your alignment.
I have been training in IP/aiki for 15 years now, and the first 7-8 years there was no descriptive terminology at all, except for a few intuitive ones. It was all "by feel, by touch." The old-school way of transmission. But the work we did had certain inherent qualities that inculcated "the feel." The next 2 years, we benefited from the introduction of more descriptive vocabulary and a growing body of individual exercises, which parsed out the 6 directions, and pointed to the roles of the spine, kwas, tanden and meimon. That's when talk about "structure" also was introduced. In most recent years, I have been working on breaking down and understanding every aspect of what is creating the power and connection that I am able to manifest, and I have found the parse-out approach to be very helpful in that pursuit. It is also helping me to fill in some gaps in skill and to further refine those that I attained in my earlier years of training.
Anyway, I don't want to dwell on one aspect of a larger picture. Just want to clarify that whether you are aware of it or not, you are incorporating all of the necessary aspects into your training, or you would not be able to progress in your development of IP, and aiki.
Hey, it's all good. It's really refreshing to see deeper discussions of internal training on the 'net, where 10 years ago, the majority was still contesting the insistence of a few lonely voices that this stuff is real!