QUOTE=Ethan Weisgard;211827]I saw someone at an aikido training camp a long time ago with a T-shirt that said "Aikido - I'm still confused, just at a higher level."
Nice way of putting it, isn't it?
Spot on. I think that its really true that over many practices, one becomes increasingly aware of the magnitude of learning required for understanding. I've been told that aikido is a lifetime of learning... which really speaks to the need of shoshin.
I think that the learning journey is analogous to approaching a mountain you are attempting to climb. The mountain looks small at a distance, but looks increasing large as you get closer until you get to the base where it seems formidable. ( shodan perhaps?) Then your ascent begins..... as for me I am not even close to being midway to the peak.
I don't think that its necessarily true that saying you're a beginner is an act of false modesty... I would have to look at the person's behavior as a whole to decide if he or she was truly modest or otherwise.
Generally I choose to accept a person's word for what it is, much like I try to accept nage's technique during ukemi, with as open a heart and mind as possible without giving a mindless opening.
I hope that you enjoy your ukemi as much as I enjoy mine.