How are you? First of all, I want to tell you that I'm so glad that I know you. Second, I hope that I don't bother you with my questions (it's just that I appreciate your opinion very much and it helped me in the past very much). So, I practiced today with two people from my dojo, that practiced in the past in ju-jitsu, kung-fu and karate, and you know, it's very weird, because for the first time in my life I began to understand what you mean in your book (The Principle of the Effortless Power) about needing to be free of fear, because in our dojo, as I understood from the practice of today, the orientation is more technical art and less martial.
In short, what I'm trying to say is that in spite of what you say in your book about studying, practicing and contemplation, I can't succeed in jumping beyond the fence of the Kyu [brown belt] (I'm now in level Ikkyu in Aikido) and make my Shodan [black belt]. I figured it out today, when I practiced with those two men that were practicing hard, that the reason for this stems from fear -- when I felt them grab me/attack me I was so terrified of being hurt by them that I didn't do the techniques in the way that I studied and practiced in the last 6 years. So, maybe you have some advice for me, sensei. And again, I'm sorry if it bothers you that I ask your advice, it just I like to ask the expert and not the amateurs!
As you may know from my books, fear is a function of the future. Your mind is focused on something bad happening in the next moment and you aren't relating to what is actually happening in this. You are mentally thrown off balance by the strength and aggressiveness of these attackers and you doubt your ability to handle such force. When you fear or resist anything about your opponent, you are not being present with what's actually there. This is something you have to overcome in yourself.
Concentrate on that force -- contemplate the aggressiveness of it, the power of it, the reality of it -- until you can accept it, be familiar with it, and allow it to be exactly as it is. Work hard to make it very real in your imagination and spend some time feeling this force that scared you. Test it out with these guys again and make sure your contemplation is based on reality so that you indeed are becoming comfortable with their aggressiveness. Once this is so, you can shift from letting the force scare you (putting your mind into the fear of what's going to happen and your sense of being incapable of dealing with it) to just being present with the force, accepting it, and blending with it, using it to do your techniques. You need to join what's there, even if it is aggressive (especially if it's aggressive!). Enter into it with your feeling-attention, rather than pull away from it. At first you may not be able to do your techniques as you want, but you won't be afraid, and eventually will be able to work out how to do the technique.
Hope this helps.