Re: When is long enough to long?
I'm going to go ahead and take the "young lion" perspective here (25), as well as the "super rookie" perspective (5th class is tonight).
However, I would have to say that my outlook is a little skewed on this subject since I read and studied the philsophy of aikido for approx. 5 years before signing up for a class.
1. On the subject of rank... I didn't get into this to gain rank. Nor do I have a "goal" that I need to reach rank-wise to feel fulfilled in my training. In my opinion, if I can't perform all the techniques required for 6th kyu with perfection (or as close to it as can be expected) then I shouldn't be 6th kyu. Maybe this will take the required 3 months, maybe it will take 3 years, and maybe I'll never get there. In my opinion, Aikido is like everything else, a journey, not a destination. I came into this with the understanding that "training doesn't really start until you've been involved in it for approx. 5 years" (Paraphrase), which now that I'm into it I'm guessing means Shodan. Would I like to get there? Sure! If after 30 years of training if I'm not there, will I still have increased the quality of my life and the lives of those whom are affected by my training? Sure! So, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. I don't plan on having my last rank on my epitaph.
2. "Intensity in training" Well... I'm wondering how to describe this. Once again, having read and studied a LOT before getting into this, I may have a slightly different perspective from someone my age who just walks into a dojo wanting to learn a martial art. When I think about the intensity of my training, I consider it to be intensity of focus. Yes, there are techniques that take a toll on my body (*cough*rollinghurtsme*cough*), but my idea of training is to train my technique to minimize the effect it has on my physically. For example, I want to refine my rolling technique so much that I can roll around when I'm 65 and still be fine. (Note: I'm pretty sure if you've been doing this very long, you've had that "perfect roll" that you don't even feel. I'm talking about making every roll like this.)
The most "intense" exercise I've done so far was one that required a lot of focus. Yesterday, we did an exercise where you start out with your hand raised for a "blade of the hand" strike to the center of the head (yes, I know, I still don't know the name of this) and your uke does the same. Your hands are placed back to back, and you practice rotating your hand around Uke's (as opposed to grabbing the hand, which I was doing previously). This was by far and away (because of the concentration it required from me) the most intense thing I'd done, and it was great. That is my idea of intensity, not how far I get thrown or how hard I hit the ground.
Just my perspective.