That's a great question, Ian. I find that the more confortable I get with certain techniques, the more naturally they flow in randori. I think that as we continue to mature in aikido, more of these techniques will become second nature and will just flow. I liken it to knot tying.
As a boy scout (and now a boy scout leader) knot tying is something I have spent years and years working on. There are two keys to good knot tying:
- Being able to tie the knots.
Knowing what knot to tie.
The more knots that a person knows
(i.e. can tie without thinking and understands what they're good for), the better they are at the second point. It's one thing to just tie a know, it's a completelly different thing to tie an appropriate knot for the given application. It's this second point that seperates a good knot tyer from someone who knows a few knots.
I imagine Aikido being the same way. It takes both knowing
the techniques and
knowing what they're good for to be able to use them naturally and appropriately at the right time. It's this difference between just throwing in a technique and throwing in an appropriate technique that seperates "someone who does aikido" from "someone skilled in aikido". I figure that if my aikido gets even close to my knot tying then I'll be one the road to becoming an effective aikidoka (someone skilled in aikido).