Thanks again, good to see these translations being published. There are 2 interesting things here that I specifically think are worth discussing:
1. The breath-training thing. Watanabe describes O-sensei's description, an account that is worthwhile in and of itself. Then, he also describes his own (quite literal) interpretation of that description. The differences between them are interesting too. I'm specifically thinking of the "out and in at the same time" idea, and the description of the hands.
There was a picture of O-sensei that I thought was posted on aikiweb, and I thought it was posted by Ellis Amdur with a pretty in-depth discussion of what his hands indicated (one was flared open and one was closed, despite the fact that this was a posed photo in seiza, where normally they would both be the same). I just can't find that photo or discussion at all, for some reason. Anyway I thought of that photo and its meaning when I read this. These photos are all I could find, and they are similar. (The first one may in fact be the photo I was thinking of, but it is NOT the article I was thinking of.)
The above http://malik-san.ru/wp-content/galle...e-v/uesiba.jpg
is from this website.
The above http://www.hafos.no/html_dokumenter/...eiportret2.jpg
is from this website.
(BTW, both these photos show left open and right closed, which is exactly consistent with what is said in this interview, from my point of view: inhale = sucking in = "closing" motion, exhale = spewing out = "opening" motion.)
2. The "iron ball" / "golden ball" thing. Personally, I don't think it is contentious to say that as long as you retain the ability to move freely, feeling "heavy" is a good thing, martially. It means, an attacker has a hard time affecting you. So that should be considered a good thing, if your only consideration were to become a good martial artist. So this story may be an example of O-sensei saying that it is important to consider not just what is good for you, but what kind of training is good for your partners ("You're just practicing for yourself," meaning, you are correctly making yourself better, but that doesn't help others.)
I think it is interesting to suggest that although something may be a positive thing for you, the "right" thing to do may be to consciously tone it down. (Here, the reason is for the sake of others' training.) Such a suggestion may be easy to misinterpret as "doing that is wrong, so don't do it," rather than the correct, "doing that is great, and it is correct for improving your skill and strength, but there are other considerations, so tone it down."