There is a thing in sports science/ motor learning called blocked learning , that is doing things by repetition to get better. Others thing are random learning, stress training etc.... Different methods of learning have advantages and disadvantageous. Blocked learning develops skills to a point and quite rapidly too, continued blocked practice builds confidence however after a point the skills can actually go backward. Aikido training has many learning elements in its practice - which is great, but its easy to imagine that after 30 years it could all be just 'blocked learning' and so there little learning and even some decline.
Very interesting perspective on blocked learning. We are only able to grow and learn as much as we allow ourselves the opportunity.