One thing I would disagree with is that only outliers, in the sense of rebels like Takeda or Ueshiba can achieve mastery, although looking at Japanese matial arts from a modern perspective, it's understandable that it appears that way.
Oh, certainly, don't disagree with that at all. The point is that the most who achieve mastery tend to be outliers in some strict sense because mastery is usually something of great difficulty in any non-trivial task. Most of us simply won't devote the sweat equity to get there. Lord knows I have people ask me all the time to learn sword polishing, even at the relatively low level at which I work. But once they see how difficult/boring/repetitive/no hookers/no groupies/etc. it is, they tend to fade away and never come back. Being an outlier in some respect often gives a person a path by which to get there. Maybe it is a personal attribute, a motivation, certain opportunities that are unique. But then again, sometimes it is just someone being willing to put in that sweat equity and get there.
So all hope is not lost. But the rather prosaic idea of periodic training when you have time giving you the ability to transcend and eventually become just as good as someone who spends a lifetime of devoted time practicing... Not the same. And then there are those who can devote a lifetime of hard practice and never get there no matter how hard they work.
Or as one of my old very serious and very scientific stats colleagues used to say, sometimes success is about a combination of grit, determination, hard work and the planets being in the right alignment... It would be nice if reality was purely democratic and hard work is all it takes. However, unfortunately life doesn't always work out that way.
I read the threads about the Seattle Cop incident and some of what I consider grossly naive posts about how Aikido could have done this or that. That sort of thinking, IMHO, is symptomatic of the sort of fluffy dumbing down of the complexity of these things.
All that said... Gotta get out the door so I can have time for my daily practice with my suburito. Gotta keep feeding my own delusions of grandeur.