"We had a short discussion where I contended that in higher practice nage doesn't pick the technique used on uke, rather uke does, because the attack of the moment really gives you the technique to do if you watch and sense the direction the energy is going. He said he thought you could determine the technique. I don't like that, because I think you then have to physically, artificially move uke into position to do "your" technique. But, I could be wrong. "
Think about what happens when someone tells you something then think about what happens when someone listens to you. You are probably much more inclined to resist being told, right? It doesn't feel good and it only works with superior firepower or the like. Listening seems to be the preferred choice.
Just to make it more unclean however, there is atemi which is an artificial induction technique if ever there was one but something drilled into me from day one at my first dojo. Did I mention that I've been known to punch? Wait a second, I'm not into that martial stuff. Oops! So it seems that a core part of the art is actually somewhat manipulative.
But then if you listen you might hear that you should manipulate your partner and then you shouldn't and then you should sommersault and ah hell.... See why I don't understand Aikido? Your beautiful assertion aside it ain't that simple.
I agree, Chuck, that this type of interaction is not for regular classwork, and in my mind would be more for "a-couple-of-guys-messing-around-on-the-mat-after-class" practice where you've got someone of comparable or better quality to work with.
It absolutely belongs in regular classwork and in fact where I spend my evenings these days it's virtually all we do. Two hours of free form listening and checking out what happens. We do it with beginners, we do it with advanced folks and everyone in between. I think since I started hanging out there 5 months ago we've had exactly 4 nights where technique was taught. It's a paradigm based on listening and it seems to work.
By the way, what's fries the mind is that beginners start doing technique. It takes them longer to get it but it shows up. Turn the process almost completely upside down and dammit if don't seem to be working. Once again, see why I'm confused these days.