Gawd, the only people who argue or question what "it" is are people who haven't taken the time to seek out someone with "it" and feel "it" for themselves.
The whole thing isn't mysterious. There might be different explanations for why "it" works, or how to achieve "it", but noone who has felt "it" has a problem recognizing "it" in others.
- To begin with, there are postural clues. These clues can be imitated, but you won't see someone with "it" without them. These include things like a high head, shoulders pulled back and down, a more or less straight back, and a certain style of movement.
- Second, people with "it" have a very coordinated, unified movement. Their feet, hands, and hips move as one. The head/hips/shoulders/ankles don't lead the rest of the body. This is a pretty big clue, at least for me. It took me a little while comparing people with "it" and people who don't before I could see the difference, but now that I can it's really obvious. Do you notice the difference between, say, Kuroda Tetsuzan and James Williams (both excellent swordsmen)?
- If you find someone with a really developed dantien, their abdomen will actually shift left/right/up/down as they move (it's kinda weird when you first notice this).
- People with "it" also have a certain relaxed power. This also took me a bit to see, but now it's also really obvious. This can be confusing at first because there are tricks for applying "relaxed" force without "it". Look at [ this video ] of Akuzawa. Can you see the difference between the "wrong" way to do kokyo-ho (0:30) and the "right" way (0:35)?
These things are all very easy to spot, but you need to spend a little time with people who have "it" before you can tell the difference.
OK, enough ranting. Mike
, I asked my teacher about breathing exercises, because we don't focus on them in my class. His argument was that you don't really need to worry about them. He said if you focused on standing/moving exercises, the breathing stuff will appear naturally along with the manifestation of body connection. (And interestingly enough, a couple days before you wrote this piece, a fellow student of mine described this same phenomenon---the inflating feeling---showing up in his own practice, without doing any special exercises.)