Mary Kuhner wrote:
...I have trained in a school which strongly emphasizes watch-and-copy, and I learned very slowly and, in my judgement, very superficially there. Her regular students clearly thrived on the style, so this is going to vary from student to student, but it was extremely difficult for me to "get" what she was teaching. Now when I visit there, I have a large repetoire of previous explanations to fall back on, and I do better--though probably I grasp even less of the specifics of her style, since I am interpreting them through a misfit verbal "lens"...
Given time you will be able to mesh your intellectual understanding with your practice. Once that happens you will be able to analyze various techniques. Given a short period of time, you will be able to pick-up new techniques quicker and understand techniques deeper than the student who only uses repetition to learn.
A person who uses repetition only is like a snake who has to swallow their meal whole. A person who learns through practice and instruction is equivalent to someone eating a meal in bite-sized chunks. By breaking down technique into smaller movements, you're able to analyze the various components. You can then see where those components are used in other techniques.
Once you reach that level, you're able to use the very powerful tools of analysis and synthesis in understanding aikido. You develop an aikido schema. Schema is information that you already possess when learning something new. None of these procedures are available to someone who practices solely by repetition.