Ill put my 2cents in after my 11 lessons.
My wife and I were watching a t.v. program (in Hungarian) the other day. (Think its a British show, but it could be from the other side of the pond.)
Anyway the show is similar to MTVs "I wanna be made" - but its for adults and instead of having someone work with them an hour or so a day, it seems to be more intense like plunging themselves into whatever task they want to undertake.
At the end a group of judges has to pick out the person who is the 'fake' - or the one that has only been doing such and such 'career' for only a month but trying to pose as longer.
They did a show with a guy wanting to do karate.
And at the end of the month he was pretty good. 2 out of 3 judges could not guess he was the nooby. (felt sorry for the ones that trained 8 years, etc. which the judges picked as then nooby over the guy who only did the sport for a month.)
But see this proves something very important.
"I have trained 8 years and got black belt"
And so...was that 2 times a week like at my dojo?
Then its no wonder it took you that long.
Was it 5-6 times a week like in Budapest dojos?
Or like this guy, he had an intensive, from what I understand, day in and day out training for a month.
Its about how much you put in. And with Aikido it doesnt hurt to have live practice people. (I believe the other arts would benefit from more full contact sparring on a regular basis to see what works or doesnt...from the beginning, so that they can better feel why and where to hold their hands.)
So give me a month of intensive tranining day in and day out, and watch where I would be.
In saying that, had I not took the effort to study and watch stuff on my own on the internet, then I would not even be where Im at now.
I will say that as of now I can do Shomenuchi Ikkyo (omote & ura)
pretty fluidly - vs my stumbling and lack of terminology comprehension from the beginning. The fact that I looked up the requirements, etc. helped me to flow with whats going on at the dojo. It appears the requirements arent given out until test time.
(This is not a complaint...Im trying to merely back up the whole point of its what you put into it.)
So the 8 years, 6 years is a long time.
If everyone had the benefit of being a live in it would go by faster.
But thats not the world we live in - at least most of us.
So then you will have the factor of those who can only train 2 vs. 4 times a week, and this will make the time go quite lengthy relatively quickly.
Anyway...the point is to enjoy what your doing. Its truly not about the belt..unless you want that. i know when I started that was a motivating factor...I want to show I "conquered something"
But as my other post have pointed out, its more about self-mastery, but even that is not a good 'word' pointer...more about self-discovery?
Any way - Peace to you all, and enjoy your sport!