Mel Barker wrote:
Well since I have no concept of what it means to extend ki, and since I never have heard any of the shihan I've studied under mention such a thing and since my instructors consider such language to be nonsensical and useless, I doubt I "should" be doing it. I think such notions get in the way to learning to do aikido. Others, I know, have a different perspective. I don't know what they "should" do either.
While most people practice a form for a technique, the style I practice changes things around every year. As the years go by, these small changes add up and the techniques takes on completely different physical motions. But while the physical forms change, this idea of extending ki remains the same.
What is extending ki? It's being calm and moving in a relaxed, natural motion. Someone asked K. Tohei how to pass the advanced ki tests. His reply was, "Do Nothing." i.e. don't get in the way of yourself.
I threw in the faces
partly to indicate that I wasn't really getting on your case specifically. You saw the possiblity that this approach might help improve a person's aikido. Most people don't even get that far. Because they don't understand it, they deride it and call unbendable arm a "cheap parlor trick".
However the other observation is also valid. If being calm and moving in a relaxed manner is good for your aikido, imagine how that approach could improve your life! If you look at top athletes, they are always playing in a calm manner. How many times have you taken an exam and your mind freezes up because you're too tense? Any type of performance situation usually brings on the possibility of subconscious tension rising. How would your life change if you could avoid that?
This is one approach to aikido. There are others.