To echo many other responses:
Patience, grasshopper... (Are you old enough to recognize that?)
As Phi mentioned, you're still learning the most basic of the basics. Many consider shodan the start of actually knowing enough about a martial art to start to develop an understanding of it. I spent 6 years, in 3 dojo as a sankyu.
After nidan grading, I got a movement correction from the rokudan sensei, saying approximately "what you were doing was OK for a shodan but now you're a nidan and it's not good enough".
Hmmm... I can relate to this. In yoga, we have postures that can never be perfect because a senior teacher will always find some way to correct the posture to make it better. For some reason, I didn't think of it in the same way in Aikido and that's because there are these stupid ranks. I was thinking that I should just practice my techniques so I could be proficient at that kyu rank and then move on. What I failed to see (lightbulb on) is these techniques, even though they are 5th kyu, are going to look much different when I'm a higher rank.
SHit. (lightbulb moment)
You guys have made me realize something. For all the ranting I made, here are the reasons why I decided to study at my dojo:
1. My kids study here and there are some nice people in this dojo who have helped me learn difficult concepts.
2. Sensei, for all of his unorthodox versions of his techniques, performs all of his techniques flawlessly and they are beautiful to watch.
3. The other teachers that I like here are all giving me supplemental material that I may or may not use, but at least I'm getting different perspectives. Some of these perspectives may work well for me, others not, but I'm getting it all here.
4. There is a wide range of ages among the students, people from 18 to 60+ (in the other dojo, not a single person was over 30, except for the teachers)
5. I saw a place that had lots of potential and was on its way up. That's where we're at now, from 4 students per class to 2x or even 3x more.
Part of my bitching may have been subconsciously influenced by the growth in class size. When classes were smaller, more focus was on me, the new student, so I was progressing well. Now that classes are larger, there's less focus on me as the teachers are all trying to get everyone else acclimated to 6th kyu as well. This week I just didn't think about the 5th kyu test at all. I just focused on performing the techniques for my love of Aikido, not for a stupid rank.
The same thing happened to me when I was taking college classes at my workplace. I work at a university so I can take college classes for free. I took 14 art classes because these are the classes my parents didn't allow me to take when I went to college over 25 years ago. After I finished the 14 classes, all of the classes in Penn's photography curriculum, I asked if I could use those towards an MFA degree and they said no unless I quit my job at Penn and enrolled as a full-time student. That made me really upset because if they accepted my classes and gave me part-time status, all I'd have to do was studio classwork, which was just one year of study that could be spread out over two part-time. My point is I was concerned with "rank" even though I started taking those classes with no intention of gaining a rank. This is what happened with Aikido. I got a rank and then I wanted to proceed like a racehorse to get that next rank. It didn't help when Sensei kept announcing "This is for 5th kyu" before every 5th kyu technique because I kept feeling like he was dangling a carrot in front of me that I'd never be able to get. The past couple of classes, I just said to myself, "Fuck the carrot," and I think I actually did better in the past two classes than I did in quite a while.
I still want to study from teachers at other dojos to gain their perspectives. That's why I went to the Christmas seminar. It opened my eyes to the NY Aikikai. Awesome place. I took my kids there so they could see where Aikikai all started on the East Coast. That's where I met Penny Bernath, Donovan Waite, and Steve Pimsleur. I know my ukemi can be improved if I study from this one teacher at Donovan's school. I'm still rolling not in a straight line and I can't breakfall to save my life. We have this new tatami mat and it's been quite a challenge adjusting to it from a cushioned floor.