"How would you answer these questions?
How to answer how? lolz
To be serious, I think you have to buy into the whole chakra and meridians thing. I've tried to study this stuff, but in my opinion it's as much quackery as it is anything else. The most pragmatic approach to an understanding of internal energy fields would be what I've learned about Aikido--no surprise there. Otherwise you just get lost in the metaphysicality of it all, and can go in a million different directions asking all of these questions with few fruitful answers coming forth.
The initial reason I posted this thread is because some of these questions seem like they should have straight forward answers (e.g. the location of "front, back, etc."). I can see how others would be harder, if not impossible, over the internet (#10 perhaps? ...although my initial guess is there's a potentially good admonition not to try to drive [i.e. begin?] your movement from your hips).
I can see how it might also have to do with this idea expressed in the Embrionic Breathing article:
In order to store the Qi at the Real Dan Tian, you must keep your mind there so the Qi will not be led outward and be wasted. However, when you meditate it is not easy to keep your mind there for a long period of time. To reach this goal, you must first have regulated your body to an extremely relaxed state. Wherever your body is tensed, the Qi will be led there and consumed. Therefore, you must learn how to use your mind to control the muscles in the abdominal area efficiently through abdominal breathing. You must be able to regulate the abdominal breathing until conscious regulating is unnecessary. Then you can begin your Embryonic Breathing.
Ergo (?), in thinking about the hips as the basis for whole body movement, you draw attention away from the "whole" in whole body movement; "you lose your center." (And thus your study of what the Hara does).
This section of the Embrionic Breathing article describes a bit why the front of the belly (the "false dantian") might not be good for generating power, even though it can generate "Qi."
Daoists call the front of the abdomen the "False Dan Tian." It was named this because, although this place can generate Qi, once the Qi is produced, it immediately enters into the Conception and Governing Vessels' Small Circulation. Consequently, it will be distributed to the twelve primary Qi channels and be used by the physical body. Thus, it is known that, though the Lower Dan Tian is an elixir furnace, it cannot store the elixir (Qi) efficiently. If the elixir cannot be stored to a higher abundant level, then the Daoist Gongfu (training) such as "refine the Qi and sublimate it upward," or "returning the essence to nourish the brain" cannot be accomplished effectively.
Does that address #2? Of course it will never tell how well we're doing it, but it at least tells us an idea about why it might be important, though not for generating power.
Right now my "understanding" of hara/center involves the idea of a kind of tensegrity hinge or tension-nexus; it also relates to pressure changes which are at least partly caused by the lungs/diaphragm; the diagram showing "real dantian" seems to map its location, as near as this neophyte can tell.
Now, I would be happy to try and go down the list and answer them...but I'm not well-trained enough to have confidence about what I think I do know. I am very confident I'm ignorant, though, so I'm hoping to leave it to those with much more experience. The threads which I am sure address at least some of these questions seem relatively difficult to parse through; I figured with such a concise list of questions we might get a more concise presentation of "hara". Rehashed perhaps, but hopefully still more distilled, too. I put it here because I'm not looking specifically for an Aikido perspective, but I'm also not looking for a non-aikido perspective, though I am certainly happy to have either. Maybe "Hara-logy" is too big a subject on its own, but perhaps if we can tie it to Dan's list of questions we can keep it within a reasonable set of proportions.
...I dunno...that was my thinking; this is my effort in that regard.