Re: Where is the line drawn?
I've only been practicing Aikido for about eight months, but another lifelong practice I've been doing for 30+ years is working with horses.
There are many parallels, many, many. For me, they are both about layers of knowledge, of understanding, of letting the knowledge sink into my soul rather than remaining rattling around in my brain.
Last year I had a huge realization that things I thought I "knew" on my path of horsemanship, such as softness, centering, intent, energy, I didn't really know. I was just dipping my toe into the pool of knowledge...and this is after decades of work. Now, I guess I'm in up to my knees. It'll be another few years before I peel off more layers and am up to my eyeballs! And also, I'll never be as good as I want to be, and there will always be more to learn, more to refine, more layers to unpeel. To me, that's exciting. It's a lifelong process, and I would be sad if it had a finite ending.
With Aikido, for me it follows the same path. I realize my "knowledge" of ikkyo or irimi nage or whatever today, as a 5th kyu, will be vastly different from my "knowlege" of it a few years from now.
Similar to katas, yeah, I "know" the 18 steps of the first jo and bokken katas. But put me next to my Sensei, who's been practicing Aikido for 20 years, and it will soon become obvious that his knowledge of the katas and my knowledge of the katas are worlds apart. His has depth; mine is superficial. And yet I'd bet if asked he'd say he's still working on making his kata the best he can.
So, for me, I accept and am content with where I am on this journey today, in this moment, and I'm also continually striving to do better, to understand at a deeper level.