Why do I bother with Ki development? The movements of the various solo exercises are, after all, kind of trivial. Done correctly they don't tax my body physically or provide an especially aerobic workout. The paired exercises, commonly seen as mere tests or tricks, don't seem to accomplish much when viewed from the outside. Where's the benefit? Will I not develop Ki simply by practicing waza over and over? Perhaps Ki exercises are just a way of warming up before engaging in "real practice"; you know, throwing and taking ukemi.
Ki exercises are not simple warm-ups. Ki exercises, solo and paired, are a means of unifying body/mind/spirit so that I may physically experience Ki. What does it mean to physically experience Ki? Well... a heightened sense of awareness, a feeling of well being, a barely but absolutely discernible thrumming in my body, a deep and abiding connection with my surroundings, have uke grab me and be immediately unbalanced, stand on one foot and have uke push my outstretched wrist to no avail, have four ukes grab me in any way they choose and then slowly remove them one by one despite their resistance, to know that my uke feels as though a very soft mountain has fallen on him when I execute a timing throw, help me to develop a synergetic strength that I would otherwise lack.
Ki exercises train me to integrate the trinity that is my being. I bother with Ki development because, for me at least, Ki development is the very heart of Aikido.
(Original blog post may be found here