Hmmm, where to start?
Aikido is an experience unlike any other martial art I've experienced. It is based on Shinto spiritual philosophy which preaches the interconnectedness of all living things. It's precepts based on non-violence and peaceful resolution of conflict. Its tenets lie in the ancient warrior code of conduct - honesty, chivalry, loyalty, virtue, courage.
Because it is based on the Universal principles, and peaceful non-violence, there are no set techniques. Forms in themselves are used to teach the principles of movement, of flow, of balance and coordination, of fullness and emptiness, of extension and contraction, entering and turning.
The key to all of it is in the harmony of internal energy between the "players". We seek the "feeling" of the "moment", rather than follow a set of pre-determined responses.
So it would difficult, if not impossible to answer your questions to specific technical responses. Any response is a valid response.
But this is how my Sensei taught me, and therefore how I train. Other aikidoka will have different, but equally valid, perspectives.
[This message has been edited by eyrie (edited 02-06-2005).]