Is learning to play the piano well the result of a very specific process? I guess I can see that. I might be confused by a lack of clear division between training and application of This Stuff when people talk about it.
Piano is an interesting analogy. If you had two warriors, and one came from a camp where learning how to fight was about as difficult as learning to play piano, and another came from a camp where learning how to fight was about as difficult as learning to play football, and each had about one year of training...which do you think would survive a fight?
Since its here I am going to use it as a point of comparison for something I have noticed in my training...
I think a fair goal of mainstream aikido is to disseminate a curriculum that creates a pre-disposition to understand and apply aiki. The actual expression of aiki is complex and not everyone will actually find that path. Some number of students pre-disposed to understand what is happening are exposed to aiki and pick up some quality of aiki and express it in their waza. Not everyone gets it and not everyone cares.
In the analogy above, the problem is surviving a fight in one year. The duration of preparation is one year. The consideration of study is between music (specifically piano) and athletics (specifically football). The question would be, "Which curriculum is going to leave you pre-disposed to understand fighting, given neither curriculum directly instructs fighting? The actual curriculum you should learn is answer is of course hockey.
I am not going to bite on a comparison between the complexity of curriculum. The armchair quarterback in me regularly criticizes the education level of those who play football, but I do not have the presumption in me to subjectively judge the "difficulty" of either. The idea is that each curriculum focuses on a different goal.
This does bring up a regular point of issue for martial artists who compare arts. Curriculum can craft a directed route to a goal. If my goal is to be an effective fighter in one year, that path is different from another's goal to find an low-stress athletic activity; both goals can be satisfied in aikido. This leads my back to my observation that I believe mainstream aikido is trying to balance a curriculum that is consumable to a large number of practitioners, but also pre-disposes the most number of practitioners to experience aiki.
I think this thread is about finding out how we can adjust the balance of training and curriculum to maximize our personal exposure to, and training in, aiki. I think in that adjustment we have a responsibility to respect the entire body of curriculum. As a point of instruction, I think instructors also have a responsibility to respect the abilities of the students and their exposure to aiki. This is the problem with socialized curriculum. Academically, we necessarily exclude individuals who cannot consume the curriculum. English 100 may include engineers and biology majors. But English 375? Nope, just english and communication majors. Will an english major write more better than a engineer? Arguably, yes. Can an engineer write adequately? Arguably, yes. Is an english major better than an engineering major? Maybe at cooking fries... (sorry, some academic humor there).