Peter A Goldsbury
The two shihans you mention were both very serious students of Seigo Yamaguchi. I also studied under Yamaguchi Sensei ...
Yes, I'm aware of this.
and so I am curious about why his approach, which you have seen in the training of Endo and Tissier, lends itself to aikido and counseling.
First: I really don't know, whether the relationship of aikido and counselling is specific for the way I've learned aikido or whether this fits with "aikido in generall". (Not depending on teacher or "style".)
Second: I want to make clear, that I never trained with Yamaguchi sensei (my teacher did) and Christian and Endo are not direct teachers to me.
Having said that, some points of interest for me:
In aikido, as I got to know it, self-reflection is an important point of how to learn, how to grow, how to go further on. Endo sensei often asks: How does this feel or that? Why do you move this way or that way? He actually doesn't expect answers. But he expects the students to be aware of themselves. So this is a bodily way of introspection or self-perception.
Talking of and understanding ki as kimochi, feeling, sentiment, sense leads to taking ones feeling/s, ones sentiment serious. To accept feeling as a real, a essential criterion instead of just being a "accessory". If I get it right, the understanding of kimochi transcends the spheres of body or mind? So this "understanding of ki"-kimochi is a bodily way of learning how to find answers to the questions life asks.
Then „freedom" is an important issue: Practice should lead to freedom. Not by getting rid off whatever but by being oneself, being centered and upright, knowing oneself, trusting ones own feelings, … . The aim of practice / keiko / performing kata overandoverandover is freedom. Freedom to do whatever, freedom to be oneself, to have possibilities.
So this aiming to (first technically spoken) freedom is a bodily way, learning that we can create our life.
Christian also often talks about "creating the situation", to use the experience of keiko to lead uke by creating the setting. And being confident: This will work. And he also uses the phrase of having an image, a „dream" of a technique which can be realized. So this is a bodily way to learn to specify our dreams and wishes and to make them come true.
Then there are some points like the role of shizumaru (I don't speak Japanese, but I don't know the right word in English.) is very interesting: A bodily way of becoming calm, centered, upright, and the opposite of being upset.
Being permeable, using the arms to feel, to sense, to perceive and not to do. A bodily way of learning empathy.
The connection of uke and tori by atari, musubi as Endo teaches it again and again in his classes. This "technical" relationship is a bodily way of learning to communicate, of learning about the connection and relationship of I and You.
Puuuh, not so easy to express my thoughts in English. And I am not sure, whether I gave you answers to your question ? …
I am well aware that people have criticized Yamaguchi Sensei's aikido as being unsuitable for beginners and I accept this. However, as a pastoral counselor, do you think that a different approach might be more suitable for beginners?
No. I don't think so.
It is a very long and intensive way to incorporate aikido and to feel at least a little effect of keiko. This is not only about the aikido of Yamaguchi sensei or the aikido of someone else ...
It's about aikido in generall, I think.
Standing in hanmi is a very good exercise, it does something with your body and with your soul/spirit/mind. But to learning to stand hanmi (at least in such a way it "gives something") requires quite some time of training.