Do you think the terminology shifted to reflect a new emphasis? I can see how the senior level of understanding as uke can really reinforce the ability to throw/etc. but if we're looking at the ability of uke to receive technique safely (a more defensive paradigm shift), I could see how the newer mode might make more sense. When I was first becoming familiar with ukemi, receiving from sensei just sort of made it happen in certain regards and seemed to clarify the experience of falling safely for me (it certainly took away the uncertainty-related fear of falling).
...not that the older model didn't include this, too, but again, I wonder about a possible shift in emphasis.
There are wayyy more qualified people with actual history on this shift that can chime in on the other thread you started. In my opinion, the shift was largely due to trying make aikido palatable and to simplify the relationship for the masses. In Budo Renshu
, the text largely referred to Shite as instigating the technique. When I work out with good seniors, I find they often "release" me to attack (i.e., present an opening that induces me to engage them). So in this sense, even as uke I am not initiating the exchange.
I have heard several competing theories on this subject, all of them lead back to defining a constraint around uke (and sometimes nage). Again, I believe this was because uke needs
to be a common denominator - that is, aikido developed its kata so that anyone
could be uke or nage. To your point, yes, I believe the design is intended to lower the threshold for our partner to safely interact with us. But then we move into waza and find uke is not able to perform at a faster speed with more intensity and practicality...
As a casual observation, I think it is a valid critique that the common denominator is pretty low right now. Buts that's the balance - quantity v. quality. Once that bar starts moving back up, there will be pressure to educate aikido people on how to attack. Sensei Todd Jones stopped by the dojo the other day (Man I like that guy). He did an article with AJ that I think is relevant: