Mark Freeman sensei (or Mike Haft sensei or any Ki-affiliated sempai/sensei),
Could you describe how your skills developed? Like, first you felt like this, then eventually you felt like that... Sorry, vague question, I know.
But it's helpful for us newbies who currently see the path ahead as:
1) Year 1: Do aikido waza and ki-development exercises as relaxed and correctly as possible while listening to sensei, keeping in mind the 4 principles.
3) Year 10-20: You can now redirect force back to your attacker just by thinking about it with no apparent external movement.
Easy on the 'sensei' stuff if that's ok. In the dojo is one thing and there are various reasons for it. None of which really apply to internet discussion IMO.
I'd say do year 1) for the rest of your life and you're probably on the right track. For me it's more like do years 1-4 for the rest of my life.
If it helps. From between 6 months to 2 years. I could do a lot of the stuff (not all!) that Mike Sigman referred to as the baseline skill in the thread of the same name, for those familiar with ki aikido that would be doing stuff at the level of 2nd test or so, in other words keeping a calm and relaxed posture when being tested with light (maybe 3-6lbs pressure) in a fairly static way, also including some more dynamic tests and some stuff happening in a variety of odd postires such as standing on one leg, leaning backwards etc. After 4 years i could do a lot of the ki tests at 3rd level, i.e. stopping someone elses ki from entering my body. All the rest just builds on that with a variety of different twists and nuances, most of which you are probably unlikely to see much of if you are a seminar hopper who cross trains in ki aikido from time to time (probably, but I don't really know so that's a total guess on my part, I've never bee part of a large organisation that has many seminars over the course of any given year so it's only an impression I get from talking to others who are)
After 5 years I moved away from the area of the UK my teacher lived in and returned to London, my only choice if I wanted to keep learning was to start teaching, which is what I did. To my surprise I found that teaching things was one of the best ways to learn, because it forces you to think about things in creative and clear ways. 5 years after that I can have a 260lb guy push me full force in the middle of my chest and stop him from moving me, and I do mean full force and without deference to me because I'm his instructor (you could say I'm taking ukemi for him if you like). I can't do it all the time, I have good days and bad ones, sometimes I have to take one or two steps back to absorb all that pressure. Sometimes I can do it with my feet side by side, sometimes not. Right now I'm trying to explore why I can't do it consistently all the time and it's a lot of fun doing that.
I can't comment about what happens after 10 years because it'll be my tenth year of aikido in september of this year.
Hope that's helpful.