In hopes of building some discussion, I have stated in one location much of the process I use in this post.
Most of my Aiki study has been exactly in the area of how every little thing I do specifically effects uke in the following ways:
(3) reduction of his or her base
(4) dropping my weight through one of the throwing points in uke's stance.
Relax, Attach to the Center of Gravity and Destabilize the Structure
The baseline Aiki-Daito strategy is that as soon as you touch me or I touch you, you pay a price.
I command your balance and stability.
What is hara or center?
For me, center means "center of gravity". This is very different from many who consider that the center remains inside the pelvic girdle like a 5 gallon can of beans and noodles. A center of gravity has no weight or mass. It is like a quark. And it can move outside the body. Joining centers of gravity is likely an impossibility in Newtonian physics. One center will displace the other quite naturally when they come too close together. When you can feel this activity happening through the connection, techniques are quite light. You are not fighting uke's strength or mass. You are pushing his quark.
Once setting the center of gravity in motion, I can play with your base and decide how tightly I want to throw you (how small or at what point in space the pivot point will be) or whether I just want to keep you unstable and punish you with atemi or koppo.
You see, whether I complete a throw or I do not, it really does not matter to me. If I have made you "worry about falling" then I am in control and your mind has been "split" between protecting yourself from the fall and deciding to strike back. Few people can do both at the same time.
In fact, if you are unstable and losing your balance, (1) you will have little-no power in your punch and (2) you will have lost most or all of your "iron vest".
Throwing (Balance and base)
Good Daito can be performed slowly. many Daito/Yanagi throws are often accomplished not by lifting an uke as seen in Quito Ryu/modern Judo. Many techniques are accomplished by "weighting" uke's spine by relaxing your body sequentially. This is why yanagi is interpreted as "Drooping Willow".
Sequenced relaxation builds momentum within your body.
When uke's spine is compressed, you now have a connection to his center of gravity. Small shifts of your center can make uke's compressed spine become unstable. Once unstable, the load, (your relaxed mass) moves his center outside his base, he loses his balance and he falls.
It is just physics. Relaxation. And a smidgen of mental focus points.
Weight dropping to me is simple physics. Bottom line, I must be relaxed enough to "read" your body. Every jig or jag must be read and responded to like water filling a gap.
Now, uke can catch a bowling ball pretty well if his posture is stable (structure) and if his hands are close to his center of gravity. He cannot do it if (1) he is unstable and/or (2) he tries to do it with his hands outstretched (far from my own center of gravity).
Dropping weight has nothing to do with applying force. It is about letting gravity take over.
In another strand I talked about using the visualization of cutting through butter. After making a specific study of how the body buckles, you just drop weight like you are dropping a men cut with a sword and trust that gravity will drop your weight through the vulnerable area.
In fact, Riai to us means doing your weight drop exactly like you are doing your sword cut. For thowse who know the Yanagi cut, they can probablyt see it in my weight drop process.
As I said before, once relaxed, you will feel the compression of the joints. Then move your lower body with a focus on uke's center moving to one of the known throwing points in his posture. Then drop more weight there with your body and your mind. Do not force it, let gravity do it.
Dropping weight must be done in a vertical plane. Angled planes tend not to work. Dropping weight in an agnled plane causes "contention" within your muscles and structure that impede the work of gravity. Put simply, balls fall down to the ground in a vertical fashion.
As I said, good Daito/Yanagi can be performed slowly, even the aiki-no-jitsu techniques. In fact, I have done two things in my demonstration videos:
1) I make the circles I use larger than I normally do so that people with a good eye can see how my movement effects uke frame-by-frame
2) I demonstrate the technique slowly first and then at a normal speed. I go slow so that the trained eye can see that, just like basic push hands, I do not break my "sticky connection" until it is time to complete the throw.
In time, you can make throws so small that you simply drop your hand on a shoulder or lightly place your hand on the shoulder and the whole process occurs. You touch the uke and he falls down.
Relax and Relax Some More
Again, I must be relaxed enough to "read" your body from the get go and continue to read your body like a good masseur or chiropractor would. Every jig or jag must be read and responded to like water filling a gap. Smooth and immediate. Not going faster or too slowly, but at the same speed as your body responds to my movement.
You ever heard the joke about the midget who went into the bar, picked out a fellow and said, "do you want to fight me buddy?"
When the guy responded willingly, the midget pointed to a really giant fellow and said, "well, there's me buddy."
I have five buddies. They are my big brothers. Gravity, momentum, centripital force, centrifugal force and friction. The more you get out of the way and let these big brothers do the job, the lighter the technique becomes.
Does it work in a fight?
There is an old Kung Fu adage that says, "Who can be calm until the first blow is struck?"
The path of calmness and relaxation is a road less travelled. It often takes someone skilled in wae-gong to really make use of nei-gong. Older guys go there out of necessity. we also have less testosterone and do not get so excited so easily.
In my kenpo, escrima and jujitsu days, I got rid of the "butterflies" that people tend to get when they wonder what getting hit is like. That helps you to relax.
But to truly remain relaxed in a fight, you also need to forget about "contention" and "fear" in all their aspects. Contention begins in the mind and is the source for tightness in the muscles and losing the ability to truly read the subtle changes in yur opponent. I really cannot understand how contentious and argumentative people understand how to truly flow and blend.
What is inside the mind shows in the actions of the body. I really look at a fight as a dance between two forms…. A dance and interplay between two objects like Process Philosopher Hans Georg Gadamer states in his seminal work on hermeneutics Truth and Method. I do not think of winning or losing. Didn't the poem "IF" say "you should treat those two imposters just the same?"
I also have determined that suppression trumps attrition in most cases....especially in the initial part of the fight.
That means I also believe that intent and a bit of soft relaxed motion trumps fa-jing percussion. I would rather smother an attack and then decide if I want to throw the opponent, break him up or strike vital points. If Fa-jing is what someone has trained, isn't it a smart thing to take away his best weapons at the onset?
Power and Attrition
Now I have studied a variety of ways to attain power in a punch. I have decided that a relaxed weight-drop punch is just as powerful as a whipping-style punch generated by fa-jing. But this is simply my opinion and not worth any argument. My punch still begins at the bottom of my feet, goes through the legs, is directed by the hips and culminates in the hands. Instead of it being like "throwing a ball bearing "whipped" at 60 miles per hour as suggested in the wonderful article Dan hardin provided last week on this site, I move like a freight train going 15 miles per hour. My mass does the damage rather than the speed. And by going slower, I remain blended and sensing my opponent without too many breaks in the push hands.
Comments and insights (non contentious arguments) are most welcome.