Re: Frustration with super-soft aikido class
just yesterday evening I had the pleasure to get a 90 minute special training on connection and "feeling uke's movements" with an aikido friend who showed up especially for this purpose. We had discussed about an Endo seminar, and I said to him that I went once to Endo, getting out completely frustrated at my ineptitude to comprehend and, even worse, apply, what he showed. Not that 90 minutes brought me enormously ahead and made me grasp the concept, but even a 100 km walk is composed of many small steps. So I'd say it was very good.
Obviously no one can judge from outside if your shodan sensei does this well or not. I don't think that the connection issue is very much linked to rank. There are some people who have more talent for this type of approach, and others, who have less. I also belong rather to those who tend to do bulldozer aikido, but we have one 1st kyu, one 2nd dan and several others in our dojo who seem to have understood this concept and can effortlessly turn the "connection" or the loss of it into a technique whenever you least expect it.
But I think you are right in expecting that at some point the exercise should turn into waza. Maybe this is just the pupil's attitude that there should also be some fun in aikido, or that every advance should be measurable in quantifiable indicators (like: "today I learnt this aspect of ikkyo ura footwork), and this is not the right approach, but I also get enormously frustrated if I have to do only exercise and no application. We have another prof who indulges in endless tai sabaki. I'd never contest the usefulness of repeating and repeating tai sabaki, but it is still boring. But then again, I think it's part of the overall package, and I make a sour face and do my 200 tai sabaki and 300 ten kan...
Resuming, I think you are partly right (also 6th kyus have a right to judge their experiences and like or not like), but this connection thing (and breathing, and footwork, and suburi, and and) is necessary, and you'd have to learn it anyway.
Wish you much success and satisfaction in your training!