Why have these forums at all then?
Please keep in mind I started by acknowledging you had a point. It's perfectly okay to be both a "student of Aikido" and an "aikido student," but if you rely on your understanding of Aikido when it is time to learn Aikido, I don't think it works so well.
For example: even "cultivate an empty mind" can simply be another voice in my head that I drag onto the mat with me, that keeps me from seeing, feeling, and doing what really is being shown.
But I think it's still a concept worth discussing.
BTW, to me cultivating an empty mind or beginner's mind is not the same as having an "open mind," in the sense of being open to new ideas.
For example, when I see a technique performed and say, "Oh, Sensei is showing ikkyo," I've labeled the interaction in a way that may allow me to imitate what I thought I just saw. But it often gets in the way of really seeing (and sometimes, vicariously feeling) what was demonstrated.
Or, if I'm taking ukemi from my teacher, and I start to think, "Oh,he's about to perform shiho nage," it may feel like I've figure something out that will help me. If he then actually does shiho nage, however, I'm likely to have anticipated the technique, turning the interaction into a dance; if he changes technique, I'm likely to have that deer-in-the-headlights look as I get hammered.
Either way, my reliance on understanding what is happening is interfering with learning in-my-body.