I sit here today, reflecting on body skills. I can't remember where I heard or read this, but I was once informed that aikido is a body art not a hand art. This had a profound influence on how I continued my study of aikido. It took my concentration from that getting my hands right for a technique to getting my body in the right place at the right time and letting the hands be the vehicles for connection to my partner rather than the parts of my body that did the technique. I had been told many times that power comes from the hara (centre) and that you must keep the shoulders relaxed. However, as I was learning the technique my concentration would move back to what my hands were doing and this would naturally cause my shoulders to tighten and I would forget proper hanmi etc.
So I am studying a body art. Technique is done with the body. Not the hands, not the feet. The body.
This idea is reinforced in TSYR. Connect to your adversary with your hand, hip, shoulder, whatever. Then apply the technique with the body. Thinking this way will ensure that the hara comes into play and to fully harness a soft power, the body must be relaxed.
The struggle I have now is with the sword work. How to get the connection through the sword? It is challenging enough to try and form an integrated, aligned body. Now I add a piece of wood to the mix.
But that is a story for another time.
Back to practising both my body arts!