I've never experienced any magical aspects of aikido - when a technique works it is from precise technique (through years of training) and a positive attitude (through mental discipline). I think an attatchment to mysticism can lead to self-delusion, whereby we believe ourselves to be more powerful than we are - and maybe try to convince others the same.
Years ago I read a letter to Black Belt magazine in which a fellow bemoaned the people who kept talking about the spiritual aspects of martial arts training. He stated that this was a BS and that he personally could attest to that fact in that he had practiced for many years without deriving any spioritual benefit of any kind. Quite an accomplishment I must say.
After posting that Saotome Sensei categorically stated that he had never witnessed any kind of supernatural techniques by O-Sensei I find myself needing to qualify this based on what some people are saying in the discussion.
If you think that Aikido is simply a matter of the correct application of mechanics, that its just a matter of the understanding of scientific principles, then you are killing Aikido. When I said that we don't want to make our seniors supernatural it was because that puts them above us in a way that we can't attain.
Rather than demystify Aikido, just realize that you can understand the mystical nature of the art yourself. If Aikido is just a set of practical ways to torque on a partner efficiantly why the hell do we need it? How many people will ever in their lives use a technique for self defense. What a waste of time if that is all there is. These scientific folks remind me of a statement by a Native American about how White people looked at the world. He stated that the White man treated everything as if it were dead. If you want to ignore uncounted thousands of years of spiritual insights so that you can reduce everything down to what we can currently explain scientifically and those elements that we can't yet explain you are ignoring the fact that the "knower" of these explanations is a miraculous human being not some biologic computer. Explain everything that you can see in the universe, every single thing and you will still have the unexplained. Things are far more complex and beautiful than logic and scientific understanding will encompass.
Virtually every teacher who trained under the Founder has stories of how extraordinary he was. His ability to do technique was "magical" but not "magic". As far back as you can go in the accounts of the deshi you can find instances in which O-Sensei exhibited psychic powers (those stories can also be found about most of the giants of the martial arts).
As living beings we are far more than just the sum of the chemical comonents of which we are made. Aikido is about unifying body, mind, and spirit. Any practice that ignores one of the three aspects isn't really Aikido as the Founder envisioned it.
There are a large number of elements in Aikido that are truely magical (but not magic). If you don't know that then you haven't had the chance of doing aikido with someone who is practicing on that level. I have.
[Edited by George S. Ledyard on November 20, 2000 at 03:45pm]