Re: Poll: How helpful are verbal instructions in learning aikido for you?
A person who practices by repetition only, can become very, very good in a technique. However they will need years and years of practice. They also have to have a high degree of self-awareness, to catch their mistakes and seek self-improvement.
This is similar to the failure of Chinese science vs. Western science. The compass, gunpowder etc. were all discovered in China. However the Taoist scholars did not analyze their findings, since they did not believe the small results of an experiment would give the same results as observing nature.
For someone to learn a technique holistically, they need to learn the physical form, then practice it intensely for a long period of time. At the end, they may know how to "do it", but they will be poor instructors, since their learning process didn't involve the give and take of teaching and questioning. However, they will be excellent demonstrators of the art.
Many people move their arms/legs and tell you they're doing Tai Chi. However when someone like Cheng Man Ch'ing "gets it" you can see the whole art flower in his practice. The same thing applies to Aikido.