Re: I agree with this.
I once heard an anaology that training aikido is kinda like fishing. You go to the lake and as you look for your fishing spot, you find great spots unfishable, other fisherman in your holes, and eventually you pick a spot that you think may be good but you don't know until you stick your pole in the water. When we train, sometimes we have success and sometimes we don't. The success of our training depends on ourselves, our partners, our instructors and our environment.
It is a dojo's responsibility to raise the likelihood of successful training sessions. More students, more training times, different instructors, seminars and intensive sessions are all part of the things dojos do to maximize training potential for its students. I think it valid to question the definition of "successful" and concede that different dojos will identify different metrics for success.
As an observation, I would tend to agree that aikido dojos have moved away from a level of severity and intensity that would identify a level of competency aikin to an amateur or professional level. There are many reasons for this observation, of which I do not think it necessary to judge.
For whatever reason, I think we can draw success as a method of progress. For example, progessing a student from point A to B is a success, even if the quality of that progression is poor. For example, teaching a timid student to be more open is a kind of success even if the timid students is not "competent". I think where David was going was the observation that our metrics are slowly starting to standardize in a range that previously would have been considered "incompetent". The problem with this notion is that:
1. The metric of success is lowered.
2. The distribution of excellence marginalizes those truly excellence students to seek training elsewhere.
For me, I am trying to make sure every time I fish, it is in a spot worth fishing...