Re: Crisis of Faith
Lots to chew on. As before, I think you may be more aware of the nuances of your Kotegaeshi, so this increased awareness feels horrible but really is the root of improvement.
I don't mind someone reversing me every now and then, but when someone breaks with the kata, I think I get worse by trying to hold to a kata. An extreme example would be a partner who pulls their hands in to their center when I am supposed to do Shihonage. Iriminage or atemiwaza is much easier when someone pulls their hands close to their body but Shihonage would need much more force. I needed to develop a sense of what was actually offered.
Some insights that helped me, take or leave them,
We don't have wrist locks. All of our movements are to lock the body. For Kotegaeshi, when I am moving slowly for accuracy, I want to see the shoulders rotate bringing the one arm towards me and the other away. I want to see the one shoulder dip down. I want to see the knees start to cave away from me. Much easier to practice with on a compliant partner, but when I had a feel for it I could pick my moments.
We don't do techniques in isolation, each partner is piece of a whole. Uke is my paint brush or clay. Tenchinage is not me lifting my arms up and down, but me making Uke twist up and down. Every difference in Uke's flexibility, stiffness, length of arms, injuries, length of stride, height in relation to me is a new set of variables. Every single Kotegaeshi attempt eventually becomes something new - I hope that isn't too weird sounding. Some specific variations will not fit you and your partner.
I have read that Irimi is actually supposed to be really soft. I try to enter but always just a little off the line so that I am not colliding. Receiving Yokomenuchi at the peak of the strike is a hard impact, but catching the Yokomenuchi when Uke is pulling backward takes much less effort. I also get to engage on my terms and timing, which is much easier to do than waiting and reacting. Not all techniques work by closing the gap, sometimes the technique works better with more distance. I like the one phrase I heard years ago - Avoid a falling rock
I remembered reading that O Sensei had to bathe Takeda Sensei as part of his training. Through massage and nursing, I got a much better sense of how a human body actually felt and moved, and I got over having to touch people. It doesn't have to be a big start - there are usually foot or hand massage classes available where you practice on strangers in the class.
Going off script - there is a time and place, and you're not there so neither should they be. If they do something different, If I go force on force or chase the sense of effort or force a specific technique that they are blocking, I will get worse. I think Uke's ability to receive a technique gets worse too because this is anticipating.
Find some partners you trust and explore.