Dave de Vos
I understand that you as a rowing coach know what realistic rowing training is. But does the aikido rowing exercise have anything to do with exercises for rowing (other than looking like rowing)?
The rowing I coach doesn't bear any physical resemblance to the funakogi exercise. It's a movement pattern from moving an entirely different kind of boat that's used in aikido.
If there's anything from rowing a racing shell that's going to help in Aikido it's the strength, conditioning, balance, core stability and some possible intangibles that I'm not smart enough to discuss. A training session in rowing requires up to 2 hours of doing what is equivalent to a power clean with anywhere between 20 and 80 kg (depending on the phase of the workout and the power of the athlete) between 18 and 40 times a minute while sitting on a round-bottomed boat, working either by oneself or with a bunch of other people. Does it translate directly into anything at all to do with Aikido? Hard to say. If a trained rower learned aikido, or if an aikido person was also training in rowing, I suspect that the base conditioning from the rowing would transfer to being able to do a very long, very hard Aikido workout without really suffering too much (after a few weeks of conditioning up the musculature that's active in ukemi etc.)
However - sport rowing doesn't at all resemble funakogi undo. I keep getting told not to use strength when I'm trying to be gentle and not forceful - yet I've had a couple of shihan say they like the way I work (the late Kawahara and another)...
Oh well - my opinion counts for pretty much stuff all in these fora because I tend to try to answer from sports science, coaching and athletic training perspectives rather than traditional 'aiki' or unmeasureable 'IS' sorts of concepts...