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There are no competitions in Aikido. How do we set training goals?
I have trained with past sempai and past sensei and find some of their technical skill even at 3rd dan not much different from when they were at 3rd kyu. Some are still grasping to find "their" Aikido at a level when they should be polishing and perfecting their basics.
In karate training, the pattern of training is based on a repeated cycle of kihon, kata and kumite. The difficulty and intensity of training increases at every cycle up to 2nd dan and then tampered off after that level. The emphasis of the training starts with form, adding on speed and strength at every kyu/dan level and then changing towards soft, subtle and flowing form. The progression in this percussion art is from hard to soft while stressing on perfection of form (posture and basics) all the time. Hirokazu Kanazawa sensei (10th karate and a leading taichi practitioner in Japan) always reminded his instructors and yudansha, "What's good for you is not good for your students". By this, he meant that we should always keep to the basics and teach the variations according to the understanding and the level of skill of the students. The maxim of martial art trainings is always to strive for "minimum effort, maximum effect"; lengthy and fancy techniques are just food for the ego.
What are the training goals in Aikido?
In Daito-ryu Aikijujitsu (the forefather of Aikido) it is said that there