Re: Where's the hara?
Pete Trimmer sensei says it often. My assumption is that Saotome sensei heard it from O-sensei. I don't know this for sure, but since I'll be seeing Pete this weekend for a seminar I'll ask him. If it turns out my guess was wrong, I'll correct it here on Monday.
I get the impression that Shu is the bulding of forms, Ha is the practice of multiple variations, and Ri is being able to spontaneously handle things in an aiki way. Ha is were I'm the most weak in my understanding. It seems like there are several levels of this. Like aren't nikyo and sankyo just variations of ikyo? Anyway, the most helpful think I have learned about spontaneously moving from variation to variation is that I have to move such that my attacker is not 100% in my center vision. When I have that little angle, I manage to avoid that "deer in the headlights" problem. I got the idea from what Henry Kono sensei seemed to be showing us about randori at a seminar. (He was able to speak to O-sensei a lot more than most because he spoke the language but was considered to be from Canada - so he had foreigner-status enough to be allowed to ask questions the rest just couldn't get away with asking.) It's been working pretty well for me.
Thanks again - great discussion! - Rob