Re: Perfection of waza
I approach it like how I learned Japanese.
About two weeks into my first year Japanese class, we started learning katakana. We were taught each character, and then had to practice reading and writing them in constuctions such as:
It was tough. I never felt like I had a handle on it, and reading one word took an eternity. Then suddenly we started learning hiragana. Aaah! New curvy characters! Some that look very similar! It was horrible. But then we'd have to read a sentence like this.
Yes! Katakana, my old friend! How familiar and easy you are! Actually, I didn't have a perfect handle on katakana, but compared to hiragana I had obviously progressed in it.
Then came kanji. I was okay when we were just dealing with the characters I had learned in two years of high school Chinese, but then the boom dropped and we had sentences like this:
Ah, hiragana! My old friend! How simple you are to read and write! How phonetic you are! And while at that time I still wasn't completely comfortable with hiragana, I'd obviously made progress.
Similar things could be said with many aspects of the language. In school (particularly when I took 2nd year Japanese in an intensive 10-week course), there was never time to master any particular thing before moving on to the next. The mastery of the basics came with the struggles of trying the higher levels. Not to be confused with foundation with the basics. I had a good foundation of the basics relatively early; but mastery of them came much later.
I think this is even more true of aikido. The respected sensei saying, "I'm just now figuring out shoumenuchi ikkyou" is something of a cliché, attributed, IIRC, even to the Founder. You always practice the basics, you build up that foundation, but mastery may be elusive for a long time.
So for me the goal is to learn the grammar (the whole catalog of techniques), and the slang (henka), and the colloquialisms (ouyouwaza) along the way. A smattering of different dialects would be cool, too. And as I keep practicing, eventually I'll reach fluency. Not that I will stop learning once I reach fluency. There'll still be new vocabulary to pick up, and people are always coming up with new slang and colloquialisms!