First, I agree with Jun that this is, indeed relevant to aikido. Aikido is definitely a budo and is, sadly, often beset by some very interesting misconceptions, some born of ignorance, some of arrogance.
To mangle an old saw, ignorance can be corrected. Arrogance? Maybe not ...
Hence my point: in bugei learning, it's not the goal, it's the process that's critical.
And therein lies the very definition of _way_ ... and supports one of my arguments against use of the kyu-dan grading system. People tend to get wrapped around the idea of progressing along specific way-points (belts and ranks) rather than taking the journey as a whole, as an unbroken path rather than a series of accomplishments.
Learning to fight per se is, in many respects, a similar sort of thing: The goal is clear and simple (to kill the other guy, and avoid being killed yourself) and the value of the methods used are determined by how well they work, period.
But bugei study is not just about learning to fight -- in fact learning sword skills is pretty silly, if this is your primary goal. Learning to fight, in a very particular way is a tool used to attain a more subtle purpose.
And here we find the reasons that all the 'aikido-vs-XYZ art' and the 'How do I deal with a XYZ attack' are invalid.
Ya know, there's an enormous amount of technical, tactical and philosophical content in the budo. Most folks will never really plumb the full depth of any one art, much less multiple ones, in a lifetime.
I think that taking your training in that context (I'm gonna be here a looong time) is both humbling and inspiring.
I've been studying budo for (geez ... since '73 or '74?) a long time. Yet, I still learn, still find new ways of seeing, doing, feeling, teaching.
There've been times, many times, I could have stopped studying, training and teaching, just walked away. But even the thought of doing so left me feeling an emptiness.
Over the years, I've taken a couple of side paths, stepped away from the path once or twice (once due to an injury that kept me off the mat for well over a year), but have always returned to it.
I can't help but believe that I'll be doing budo of SOME kind till the day I die.
And ya know what? That damn mountain just keeps getting bigger and bigger ...