Re: How Long and In What Manner to Great Mastery?
I can say that for us there was a time when we flirted with the idea of "renaming", based on differences in technical syllabus (so called 'pre-war') and and training method, but in the end we decided that our teacher called it aikido, and it is aikido, so we are going to call it Aikido. Deal with it.
As far as "in what manner", Rob, I'm not sure it will be the problem you think it is.
As we do the kata, out understanding of the kata evolves, our ability to perform the kata evolves and our ability to express power in the kata evolves. In turn our unique expression, henka, evolve out of that and in turn our ability beyond or outside of kata and henka, pure art, let's say, arises from such a process.
This is the theory I was taught (in more than one venue) and it seems to be in operation in my training (but is in no way completed).
I suppose you could rearrange the pieces somewhat. I hear tell that the Chinese model has you standing and building power for years before they start teaching how to use that power in a form. It seems that the Japanese model is to teach forms and add power into them.
I think we all have experienced that jujutsu will work with raw leverage and muscle power. I think that is fine for some and you find that joy of athleticism in sport forms that dropped the rest away. Even in aikido, I'm sure that there are plenty for whom the joy of the physical workout in the company of friends is enough. But, if the kata are pure, they are always available, in my opinion, to receive power and propel one beyond form.