Originally posted by andrew
I haven't read most of the posts, so pardon me please, but the order of doing things and the precise steps involved aren't really what's important (in my opinion and based on what I've read, etc etc.)
What's important is that each individual step is done correctly in it's own right, independently of the steps before and after it. You should search for a state where you're unconcious of the next step of the kata, that is not anticipating it.
You should, of course, do what your instructor tells you to do.
The mindset you're talking about is antithetical to the role of kata in the curriculum of our dojo.
Doing each step correctly: yes. But what is correct often depends on what has happenend and what your role is trying to do.
Not anticipating: sometimes; depends on which partner is currently controlling combative tempo.
Independent of the adjacent steps: again it depends on whether you're reacting or pro-acting. If you're pro-acting, you're always in control of the transition from the last movement and setting up something further on.
I suggest (not to you specifically, Andrew) the article on Aikido Journal by Diane Skoss on the role of kata. I also suggest the article here on Aikiweb about the Shu Ha Ri cycle.
I also suggest people reflecting on Shu Ha Ri in light of their societal atmosphere, their dojo atmosphere and their own expectations of what they want from aikido.
But then again, I'm just a country aikido-ist struggling to do his best here in a very martial-arts sparse region and shouldn't really be suggesting anything to anyone.