This past Wednesday's practice. We(Brian and I) worked on two "aikido" techniques very slowly.
The first technique was cross hand wrist grab kotegaeshi.
I found it amazing how much things went south when
a) we tried to do the technique (instead of just being you and keeping all intent and structure)
b) we flexed muscle in the upper body.
If we didn't do either of those, it actually worked smoothly, slowly, without effort, and had a sticky feel to it. Initially, I worked the contradictory forces, which meant arms, spine, and legs. Using intent only, I have force/energy going outwards and at the same time inwards. Then, I relax my lower back because it's a point of contention with me and something I focus on to correct. Then, I start a wind on my upper thigh area that's coming inwards. The one thing I have a hard time keeping is the outer wind from back side of legs to hand.
I'm standing in a natural stance, feet shoulder width apart. I hold out my left hand. As Brian grabs my wrist, he pops up a little. Then, I open my left hip with intent and transfer energy from my right leg to my left leg as only my upper body turns slightly to my left. Hips and legs have not moved. I move about 45 or so degrees and then start my turn back to the right. As I turn, I try to get my intent up through my spine, out over my head, then out over Brian's head, and downward. At the same time, I'm closing my left hip and opening my right hip with intent. Energy transfer from left leg to right leg. Add more intent down. Again, my hips and legs don't move. My upper body pivots around my spine as I hold my spine straight. Brian notes that there's a sticky feeling to his grip and he can't let go.
I want to try, so we switch sides. Now Brian's doing the technique and, yep, I get to feel the sticky part. Since we're going very slow, it isn't like super glue, mind you. Going that slow, any one of us can dump out of the technique: concentrated effort to just step away, relax completely and drop to the floor, kick in aiki and appropriately match, pile drive whole body into nage/tori, etc. But, that also means that nage/tori can change the equation, too, so that opens up a whole different type of practice that we weren't working.
The second technique we did was a shoulder grab ikkyo. Like above with all the intent going, except I didn't open or close the hips. This was mainly lines of intent. Brian grabs my right shoulder. I use intent to go down into the ground, out under him, and then upwards. My right hand comes up to touch his elbow. No grip, just an open hand. I use intent to try to bring him upwards as my right arm comes up, out, over, and then down. There's a very short moment when I feel like I've hit force, but it goes away quickly. Other than that, it was just like walking through the technique by myself. Brian says the same thing that he can't let go of his grip.
I want to try and we switch sides. When I grabbed Brian I was strong. I could feel him start the technique and I knew he wasn't going to get it because his upper body was flexing some muscles. It was going to be a fight of muscle versus muscle if he continued. He must have felt something similar because he stopped, relaxed, got the structure and intent going. Now, note, that nothing in his physical appearance seemed to change. The weird thing was that one second I feel strong and able to stop him and then my power was gone. I was like, huh, what just happened. I was good and strong and then flip the switch, I can't stop him from doing ikkyo and I can't let go. And we're going slow.
We each did the techniques twice and succeeded both times. It was refreshing to actually put aiki skills into familiar aikido techniques. There was some slight differences, though. We didn't really move much, it was done in a natural stance and we didn't complete the pins. But, that's something we can progress towards. Right now, it's very neat to be able to move in a slightly dynamic manner.
Oh, not that we haven't attempted some techniques in a dynamic manner. We once tried sokumen irimi nage with a shomen strike. While it was a blast for uke because you literally collapsed at tori's feet (not really just collapsed. I'd say literally wrapped around tori's feet on the floor is the better description) right after you struck, it wasn't much of a thrill for tori. Tori never got to complete the technique. We're still a ways from that kind of control where we can manipulate a body to go where we want it.
Our major progress has been because we stopped training in regular aikido classes and concentrated just on building structure (that's our experience. There are other people doing this that are still training regular aikido classes. If you're interested, their insight would be beneficial there). I'd guess the last year and a half has been dedicated to that. And we've wondered just how this would translate to aikido techniques. We're at the point now where we can start answering those questions. In a very positive manner. Things look bright and sunny.
It's only a matter of time (say another year) and we think we'll be working most aikido techniques.