As soon as you mention the spiritual aspects of Aikido many people construct a subconscious barrier by assuming that the spiritual and martial aspects are in distinction to each other. In other words, Aikido is either “spiritual” or “martial.”
In my own case I discovered the spiritual foundation through the martial application. I have worked in the punishment and management unit in a maximum-security prison for the last 10 years and it is through being involved in a multitude of violent incidents that my Aikido was transformed.
We had a riot in the prison and it was through this that my interpretation of the foundation of technique changed. It is normal practice that when a person is brought into my area that they are handcuffed with their hands behind their backs. They are then placed facing the wall in order for the cuffs to be removed. As one cuff is taken off their hand it is then placed above their head and on the wall. Then the other is removed and both hands are on the wall above their head. However, in this particular instance as the right hand was placed on the wall he turned anticlockwise and attempted to strike me in the face with his right hand. As my left hand was still holding his left wrist (still behind his back) I turned with him and placed my right hand on his inner left elbow and continued to turn with him (with me in the center of the movement) and Ikkyo Ura was created, it was being powered solely by his aggression and intention. He hit the ground harder and faster than any Ikkyo that I had ever done before and I had used almost no force. He had nothing to resist against as it was his own power that was causing it to happen and all I did was encourage it in the direction it was already going. Later on another person lunged at me with both hands outstretched in an attempt to take me to the ground by grabbing my waist. I stepped to the side and placed my hand on his neck (at waist level) and my other hand rested on his forearm. A variation of Kaiten Nage was created by his power and it sent him face first into the ground.