We seem to all agree that rank is somewhat artificial and fairly relative. Given that limitation of rank as a comparison, I'm interested in people's response to the following question:
At what rank (or time put in) do you think people generally start to achieve a level of proficiency in aikido where they can just do techniques without struggling to make them work or remember the details. I'm thinking of those folks who just seem to move naturally and comfortably without leaving a lot of openings and with a decent level of internal power (without necessarily being expert or master level).
It's probably different for everybody, but I've heard from one shihan that real effectiveness starts creeping in around sandan. That's roughly in line with my experience as well.
What do you think?
I think people "get it", from their very first class. I just think the "it" changes.
In my first class, it was easy to see how controlling an elbow can take someone down. I "get it".
After a few kyu ranks, it was easy to see how having that same elbow facing just the right way can could change my technique from a ikkajo, to an irimi nage, to a hijiate, depending on how the elbow is placed, uke's movement, etc. I "get it"
At 3rd kyu, it's easy for me to see how the rotation of that elbow as I'm receiving it from uke changes the technique, and what I'll do with uke based on this. I "get it".
I can only image what I'll "get" as I progress.
My point is, I think every time one does a technique, they are learning something new, or should be striving to. Yes, every time. It's hard to practice that, and I certainly don't live up to it myself, but hey, it's a goal. I just think that what passes as "proficiency" to different people is vastly different things. A sandan doing an ikkajo certainly has all the grace and perfection a 9th kyu could ever hope to attain. But in that Sandan's mind, he's probably trying to sort out a number of details to himself, and thinking he's just as big a clutz as ever. Those details, to the 9th kyu, would be incomprehensible.