David Alexander Sensei was my sempai when I trained at Iwama in 1980. He had the rare experience of spending over 10 years training under Saito Sensei, in Iwama while Saito Sensei was in his prime. He also gave me my “sayonara nikkyo”, when I returned home. He explains his idea of elegance in Aikido technique:
“After training under a good teacher for several years, it is possible to develop “Kokyu ryoku” (loosely translated as “abdominal breath power”).
“Most trainees do not get Kokyu, especially if they omit “Katai” (rigid) training and practice “Ki no Nagare” (flowing style) exclusively. If many of them are grabbed with strong power, they can’t even move. On the contrary, in Iwama in the 70’s, getting Kokyu was almost a given.
For someone with good, clean technique and Kokyu Ryoku, he or she is able to perform a technique effortlessly against a strong person who is resisting with full power. This is real Aikido, and would make O-Sensei proud.
So, this is my definition of elegance in technique; “Effortless against full power”.
For more of Alexander Sensei’s interesting anecdotes, see Iwama wisdom.