To try to add something of value to this conversation (good luck right?) Why is it you do not see this shihan level of skill in younger people? We see many amazing artists in the MMA world with great skills in their 20's and 30's, yet it seems the great examples of non sport arts are always 50+. Is this a positive or negative trait of traditional arts like aikido?
That's a very good question that is worth exploring. Why does the transmission of the art take so long? I've heard that Ueshiba Sensei wouldn't accept any student into his dojo unless they were already yudansha in another art. Do you think that he expected folks to already come in with good "baseline skills", conditioning, knowledge of striking/throwing/etc. and as a result taught at a high level (sort of the graduate school analogy). I know that my teacher's teacher did judo extensively before aikido as a specific example. Could it be that aikido training on top of no other martial skills is building a nice house on an unstable foundation? Could this be one reason why it takes so long? I don't know the answer but am curious as well.....