Great training session with Sensei Ramlan yesterday.
The key takeways:
1) RELAXATION EQUALS POWER
Power cannot be generated from tension in the body. Even in kamae it is important to keep the body relaxed and hips sunk low, and especially to remove tension from the shoulders. So, too, relaxation equals connection, and the goal should be to absorb/connect to uke so their force can be redirected without effort. Aikido should never be hard work.
2) Elbows DOWN
In proper aikido, the elbows always point down, never to the sides or up. Pay careful attention to this during shumatsu dosa, hiriki no yosei, shomen irimi nage, shiho nage. Elbows down and relaxed keep power centralized.
3) Guiding and Controlling Hands
Both hands must be used in balance. One hand guides, and that happens first. The other hand controls, and that should be half-timing behind the guiding hand. Higher level, one hand can do both. The guiding hand should be the one that establishes connection to uke.
Short and sharp, relaxed until impact. Avoid raising up your body and "jumping" into the attack. Hips should sink down into the strike and the result should be that Uke feels jammed/stuck to their own body when they try to block.
5) The Toe Line
Somehow, we often try to push against uke's strong line (directly into their toes and hips).
The effective line is actually just inside the toe line. the shoft is very subtle, but will take Uke's power almost instantly. The goal is to go where uke's power is not. Ask about this.
6) Timing and Speed
yudansha should work primarily on their timing and speed, especially at nidan level. By sandan, real power can be generated, and at 4-dan and above, self-exploration can become the central goal.
7) Get Hit
Most of us are afraid of this, and that causes us to overreact. Get hit a few times so it is not such an issue. Losing this fear will improve timing considerably.