At Komyozan Dojo, we start with the BodyMajik exercises, an ancient set of core-strengthening exercises, and we have a variety of drills and exercises for relaxation. Our jo-kata teaches many things, and also many of us do the repeated overhead cuts – the ‘hundred cuts‘ – that are characteristic of our sword lineage.
It’s all about internal ki-flow, and internal relaxation. So, with the relaxation, full intention, a strong intention, is essential. When applicable, always imagine you are holding a live blade, or imagine your opponent. And “always practise in a vibrant and joyful manner”.
Once you have the internal ki-flow and relaxation happening, everything becomes way more symmetrically structured.
These Tokyo-standardized aiki-taiso (starting at 2:17) that go back to O’Sensei, are excellent, if you can inhabit them with a mind to ki-flow. There are people in the Aikido Schools of Ueshiba lineage who know this aspect well, and to get you started with Ame-no-Torifune here are some links, not forgetting the appendices to Journey to the Heart of Aikido.
To start at the source, here is a Taoist classic on ki-flow that O’Sensei must surely have known.
And think of this: your ankles must activate and flow: you’ve got to flex the ankles, otherwise they become just symbolic… And with no connection to the ground, you can’t move.