First... Your words are poetic prose. Self deprecation not necessary.
Second... Your initial journey sounds very much like my own. My primary mission in my youth was my education. Martial arts were important, but the how of that had to take a back seat to where my academic journey was taking me. So I started with Japanese karate (from a hyper-talented Japanese with a vicious streak) at W&M. Then UVa took me away, where I began studying Uechi Ryu from Rad Smith - a student of George's. Then Harvard took Rad, which meant I was on my own. I continued my Uechi journey via road trips up the coast where I met and worked out with many of today's Uechi greats. And I savored every moment of their time, knowing what little time I had to pick brains.
All while being on my own WAY too soon and being forced to teach to keep learning, I picked up Yang style taichi, Shorei Kai Goju, Tomiki method aikido, traditional kobudo forms here and there, and whatever else I could pick up from my martial network.
I was also blessed by having the World Heavyweight Powerlifting Champion (and UVa strength coach) take me under his wing and help me develop strength training for my karate school at UVa.
I understand much of your journey.
On the "bottling up" thing with the dynamic tension...
These days at the ripe age of 56, I still go into the weight room. I'm basically the only old fart who still does freeweight squats, as well as some classic Olympic-style lifts. You see a few kids coming in doing this stuff, all taught to them by their football or basketball coaches.
I don't need a Goju-style Sanchin to build strength. I can do that MUCH better with open-chain weight training exercises. So like you, I can focus on relaxed, effortless movement in my Sanchin thrusts.
- Not all movements in martial arts are about a fist flying through the air until it meets its targets. Many throwing moves and some head-to-head resistance movements involve moving the body against a load. In kata, you can't get that load. But what you can do is simulate it via dynamic tension.
Goju Sanchin has helped me add in a dynamic tension and "dragon breathing" element into my Uechi kata that frankly someone on Okinawa forgot to add in. There are days when I see the grab-lift-carry movement in Seisan done by a practitioner on a test as if he's moving air as fast as he can. I want to get up off my seat, grab him, and say "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING THERE???" Others who've learned from very narrow lines in Uechi Ryu just don't understand the dynamic range that ALL fighting systems should have - including and especially an in-fighting system where extended contact is to be expected.
- I take the dynamic tension and dragon breathing "concept" of Goju Sanchin and run with it in my warmups. Whether it's from doing traditional freeweight training or walking in Sanchin with the weighted jars, I always have a sore tendon this or a tender muscle that. My body's always talking and complaining. And the older I get, the more it talks... or these days squawks. But if I do range-of-motion exercises with dynamic tension and dragon breathing per the Goju Sanchin method, then I can get blood coursing through my sore muscles and tendons. This warms them up (temperature wise) and actually speeds up the anabolic process that happens in-between weight training sessions.
As I am want to say with my students, these kata are like tool boxes. And we shouldn't be afraid to take a tool out of the box and use it in any fashion that serves a purpose on our respective journeys.
I hope my thoughts made sense to you.
Oh and one more thing... You could do a lot worse than train with some of Buzz Durkin's students. Buzz is an amazing instructor.