Seems the conversation has morphed back to where it was before.
Still, me being me - I have to respond to the lecture.
Edwin Neal wrote:
Peter i disagree you never reach a point where training with juniors is of no benefit... you seem to suffer from an aiki disease that i see often... some aikidoka think they must train with the Best... i knew a guy who only wanted to work out with dans because he said they knew more and he could thus learn more from them... this is simply EGO... i learn alot about how to apply MY waza by being uke, i simply love to be uke, with less experienced people i often "feel" where their waza is weak and this helps me refine my own... many of the dans that i practice with note that my grasp of kaeshiwaza (counters/reversals) is very good, i relate this directly to practice with juniors... sure I have some prefered partners for really intense randori/sparring, but remember everyone was a beginner once (i still am) and if no one trained with juniors, or received no benefit from training with juniors, then how would anyone ever advance? ie how do you train with a higher rank if you're the highest ranked person in the dojo??? You sound like a nice guy... try not to become an aikisnob...
I really do think you mis-read the post Edwin. Having started two dojo from scratch and just by nature I tend to work alot with beginners - even at Honbu. So much that my own students have come up to me and told me to be more greedy.
I train beginners for one main reason and one secondary one. Primarily I need to train a cadre of competent training partners. Since people always leave I need to attract and train new members. If I lived closer to my teacher I'd scratch reason number 1. Secondarily I love the enthusiasm of brand new students and really enjoy helping them get their sea legs.
The question was about benefit and my answer remains the same.
The further they are below your skill level the lower the benefit to the point it approaches zero. This is not Aikisnob or ego - it is an observation based on my experience.
Some people like the unpredictable nature of beginners. I used to think the same until after a little while I find them totally predictable or at least their actions are not unique - scratch that reason. Beside unpredictable is what randori is all about.
Helping lower ranked students does help you understand your waza but again its the law of diminishing returns. The first few times you help someone with exam techniques that you've just past your understanding explodes. It really helps but very soon that particular benefit disappears.
Everyone in my dojo helps their kohei, its part of the price of getting their sempai's help. That in reality is the only true benefit.
Back to the conversation at hand. I figure if a person has 5 years of regular training he is due for a Shodan no matter what the age they started. If they move to an adult class and the curriculum is different or the demand higher than perhaps they need to give up the student grade for some kyu rank. Of course this is the Shodokan way - works pretty good if you ask me.