It is often stated by proponents of "IP/IT/IS" that the techniques of aikido (and presumably other styles) are unimportant; that "IP/IT/IS" operates outside of technique.
In my very limited experience, I would have to say I disagree. In my admittedly short exposure to "IP/IT/IS" I found that everything shown was technique based. It may not be what many would call a formal technique, but technique I believe it is. In my opinion, it really comes down to what distinctions the practitioner is able to make.
About ten years ago, I began developing a non-technique based model for learning and teaching aikido that bypasses technique proficiency as a marker for aikido proficiency. Even though it is an evolving thing, I feel confident now that the pedagogy is defined enough to offer this as a stand-alone method of aikido education from beginner to advanced levels, or as an adjunct to traditional practice.
In devising this teaching/learning model I drew on the teachings of Osensei, Kanshu Sunadomari Sensei, Saotome Sensei, Tohei Sensei, (Rod) Kobayashi Sensei, and Don O'Bell Sensei. I have experienced most of the principles in my method affirmed in the practice of Ikeda Sensei, Heiny Sensei, Palmer Sensei, Ledyard Sensei and the late Kevin Choate Sensei.
In doing this work, I was able to break down aikido movements as well as the bio-mechanics of attacking humans into elemental parts. Students in my method are never shown techniques to emulate other than some simple combinations that lead to an aiki-resolution (what others might see as a throw), and then only to train the elemental movements. They are taught those elements as interchangeable parts so that the path of the aiki, often regulated through repetitive training to a technique-defined track that Mark Freeman has called "fixed like a fly in amber", is created spontaneously as a harmonious flow of the combined intentions of uke and nage.
They are taught the elemental movements in a structure of "stretches" and "spots" rather than attacks and defenses to offset the automatic defense mechanisms that arise from perceiving the actions of the partner as a threat. Attacks
call for defense
even from a neurolinguistic trigger, but stretches
call for spotting
, or taking care of the partner through the stretch - being involved but not interfering. In this way, the highest goals of aikido (from my perspective), the loving protection of all things, is instituted in the training from the get go.
Once the beginners show some proficiency in the movements, we transition them into intermediate practice where they never know how they will be grabbed or struck - with authentic attack energy at reduced intensity, not the kind of collusive ukemi that is required to learn a complex technique. Through this practice they learn that the elemental ( and now trained) movements come out naturally when their ki is extended and connecting in the relevant way. We use holds and strikes that are unconventional in aikido training and try not to do the same attack more than a couple of times before switching to reduce physical patterning that begins to take hold in the aikidoist's neurology immediately. In this kind of practice we see many paths that resemble traditionally demonstrated aikido techniques, but most usually the path to the mat is much simpler and more direct.
As ukes in this method, students learn how to transmit authentic attack energy and how when doing so it is easy to recognize openings where nage is disconnecting, trying to use force to throw or withdrawing ki. In our dojo it is impossible to do a technique that is not in harmony with the attack without an application of force, because we train not to just go along with a throw. Force could always be applied through the leverage that aikido movements can provide, but because of the goals of the dojo no one takes the route of attempting to overpower their partners through leverage or brute strength. The practice becomes one in which the operating principle is masakatsu agatsu
because there will be no resolution without a true manifestation of aiki born of transcendence of lower brain (automatic) responses.
I would have to agree with you Michael the way you put it - the physical part of the training of the elements of aikido movement are essential for the spiritual parts (ki no nagare) to produce the aiki-resolution. So for me, there is some aspect of "technique" which is absolutely essential, but this is only to allow the path of least resistance to manifest. Again, this training, which is really only training in where and how to move in order to support one's partner as his attack leads him to the mat, is so that the automatic trained responses only serve to add stability to the living, unfolding path, not to insure this attacker is going to the ground in a pre-determined path which may or may not be harmonious with the attack.
It's interesting to read that some practitioners change their minds about the validity of "IP" principles when they actually feel the principles in action. I have found that the feeling itself is much harder to deny, (even if defying reason in the person feeling it for the first time).
If you're on the fence, or believe in the validity of what Osensei (and Dai Sensei Kanshu Sunadomari) called takemusu aiki, or even if you believe it is hogwash, I can show you what I am talking about if we can get together, and you are serious about the truth and efficacy of not relying on technique. (kool-aid is optional, lol)
I will be in the Washington D.C. area November 17-20, 2013 to speak and demonstrate at George Mason University at a class on the Body and Conflict, and my host is making arrangements for dojo time around that event. Currently it looks like my practice partners and I will be in an aikido dojo most of the time, the location of which we are in the process of locking down. If you contact me I will put you in touch with my host so we can coordinate.
Also planning some time in Western Canada, specifically Vancouver January 2014 and possibly the Edmonton area in the same trip. I'm in the process of making a domestic and international seminar/workshop schedule for 2014, so if anyone is interested in having me visit his or her area with this crazy stuff, please let me know. I hope this sounds less like an ad than an invitation to experience what the application of ki arising from benevolent intention feels like rather than dismissing it without first hand experience.