Learning Aikido is not complicated and in fact it could be very simple. However the reason why we call it keiko and not shugyo is that we have to be patient in learning to peel away the layers of our training.
In traditional martial arts typically we have foundation training and that would be the body. So we start by training the body physically and for most traditional martial arts it would be the strength of the legs and the core or hips foremost. Typically one wouldn’t train the extremities too much because it distracts the use of power away from the Danton’s. It’s not for all cases though, osensei has an iron pincer grip. He used to train by hanging by his fingertips on the branches of trees in order to gain sufficient height in order to enlist in the army. And grapplers have to increase their grip strength as a matter of course. How we want to train today however is to focus on the legs and core. The legs will be the foundation. And after this we should train our endurance and flexibility. Next would be to master breath power. In modern analysis of breath power they have gone beyond the esoteric explanation of breath flowing through the body and the source being the dantian. They would talk about vascular pressure, fascia cohesion and the primary driver would be reverse breathing or creating pressure in the body through breath and coordinating that with specific weight exercise.
This domain would be for th truly enthusiastic and youthful students. For the general public imagining the breath flowing through the body is sufficient. Using vascular pressure can be harmful in the long run. And traditional schools have training methods to counter act this.
After the physical training can only we really focus on the techniques. Techniques really demand a certain level of physical competency and ability before it could be performed well. In aikido keiko the training of the techniques or the waza itself accomplishes this need to a certain extent and each waza levels build up the capacity to unleash the next level. Foremost on this is ukemi or the art of receiving attacks. It also encompasses the art of atemi or strikes, of awareness of blending and of taking the falls themselves. Understanding ukemi is knowing how to react safely but not in total overtness when receiving the technique from nage. In order for both parties to learn uke cannot run away from the technique rather must receive it safely and correctly to such an extent that in advance practice there will be little difference between nage and uke because reversal techniques will be employed and attacks are only initiated when there’s tsuki.
After the outward expect of aikido is trained one can graduate to the inner and Aiki aspects of aikido of which the meat of the matter is. Despite its harmonious and soft ways you cannot learn Aiki from the get go without going through the hard technical aspect. It’s like immediately going to cursive calligraphy without understanding alphabets.
Within the 1 is the 0. And to understand nothingness you have to understand somethings first. In Aiki training a lot of the intangible understandings is needed. Be it the spatial awareness of openings of danger of opportunities the surroundings and the mind of your opponents. You’ll also need understanding of kuzushi of kamae of chushin of your connection the ground and of connecting with the opponents center and mind and spirit. And this is why you can’t immediately jump to aiki from the get go.
The final level of training is takemusu aiki. When your very being has understood the essence and principles of aikido and the emway you talk think walk and do things is the manifestation of aikido. In this regard you don’t actively think you’re a Malay or Chinese a man or a woman. You know who you are and you don’t need to advertise it. Just like that is the natural manifestation of aikido in you.