Hmmm. I liked the bunny/masher spectrum idea too because it sets up diametrically opposed sides of the argument quickly, but then if we don't define the terms the same way, the argument isn't clear. Like you, Matthew, I see myself more toward the bunny end, and I don't think of that word as perjorative. I would rather my technique fail than hurt someone, and I am OK with someone thinking I am "less than compelling." But obviously, the words I chose to define the argument can be charged, something I really didn't think much about before this discussion. Mary M, I'm wondering if this sentence, " The presence of exceptions does not change this, only provides a weasling excuse for those who don't want to own their words" refers to something I said or if they refer to something I missed?
I think one of the most compelling things about high-level aiki principals is that it largely transcends the "bunny/masher" dichotomy that seems to be the norm in most schools. Being able to negate and turn a partner's force back against him opens up many doors. Soft power, when properly trained is far more effective than hard power will ever be. So you can be yourself, at peace, and not wanting it harm your partner while at the same time totally controlling him. This is the promise of aikido.