It is not my understanding that the IMA guys think you have to learn internal skills directly from them, they are just saying that you have to have felt the application of the skillset so that you even know what you are pursuing. Basically it is like walking a tight rope. If you had never seen a person walk a rope and were asked if you thought it was possible, you would say probably not. Once you see that it can be done, nothing stands in your path other than practice (falling off a rope 1,000 times). You do not need to learn to walk a tight rope from a guy who can do it, you just need to know that it is possible.
We basically agree (I think I would have said "yes" in your analogy
). I think the vast portion of learning takes place with the aid of a teacher of some kind or another and that direct interaction with the things we seek to learn is how people learn about them the best. Your example of falling 1000's of times basically describes the 1000's of times a person practices something and in so doing refines his or her approach approximately the same number of times. With no corresponding understanding, it seems likely those refinements will be done more or less at random, which takes a lot more time to find a way that works. You can either borrow a guide or hope you have enough correlating understanding of your own to make good guesses. Either way, it's always quicker if someone can just tell you specifically what you should be doing; the tricks they've acquired that make the task at hand work best for them.
Looking inward with intensity of purpose will not get you these skills. They are not "innate" in that you have to train in specific exercises to gain a specific martial body.
Here I mean that whatever the feeling we're looking for is, we should be paying the strictest attention to it. A lot of folks describe the need to feel it; that seems like an internal
issue to me so I feel inside to get the internal shape of things and that takes consistent focus for me. Intensity of purpose just means always doing our best to pay fullest attention to the lesson before us.