David Skaggs wrote:
When in your linear progression do you stop and refine what you know? Or how do you know when to sop refining and move on?
David, the operative concept you've stated here is "stop". You don't stop, there is no stopping, there is opnly constant movement.
You can be doing so-called basics, something as simple as katetori tenkan...you start with a certain understanding or, really, lack of understanding. As you train you get input from more "advanced" training, perhaps input from training in other arts, perhaps you did yoga or Feldenkrais, it doesn't matter, it's all experience that changes your point of view, and it changes what you are doing on that so-called basic to the point at which it simply isn't the same thing you had started doing.
When someone grabs me and I do the tenkan it simply isn't the same thing that a beginner or a Shodan is doing. It might look similar but it actually has little to do with what they are doing. So is it now a basic or an advanced technique? I could easily teach a whole day on just katatetori tenkan... is that basic or advanced?
Is "aiki" basic or advanced in Aikido. You could say that it isn't Aikido without "aiki" and therefore it is fundamental. Is fundamental the same as basic? I remember Ikeda Sensei stating that the "kihon waza" (basic techniques) of Aikido don't work... What did he mean? I believe that his point was that, until you understand those techniques in a different way, seeing the advanced principles at work inside them, they don't work. So are these techniques basic or advanced? Answer: They are both at the same time.
There isn't a time in ones Aikido when one stops doing kihon waza. The basics are there always. one constantly comes back to them, over and over. Every time you do them you see something you hadn't noticed (or you should, if you are really training). You get an idea from somewhere and you come back to the kihon waza to work on your understanding of it.
After a long while, what is inside the technique you are doing changes. The outer form may look the same but the heart of the technique is transformed into something entirely different. At some pint in time I understand the principle operating within a technique. At that point I can do that technique large or small, fast or slow, hard or soft, doesn't matter because I understand that fundamental principles involved.
The process of this happening isn't one of starts and stops. I don't go, ok, I'll work on this until I understand it and them I will work on that, the next thing... I work on everything, all the time because I am studying principle. The statement that there are no advanced techniques is pretty much true... but there are certainly advanced practitioners.
Take a hologram, for instance. Each part of the hologram contains the whole. You can't talk about a piece of the hologram in a meaningful way. Your Aikido is the same. Every technique you know informs every other. Each principle you have started to understand effects your entire Aikido practice. If you have a moment of insight when doing some high level instructor training, it will change how you do your katatetori tenkan because they can't be separated.
So you are always refining and you are always progressing. Both. Both at the same time. You do one then you are doing the other. There is no difference.