Today was a really rough class for me. I actually felt like I was able to focus more on executing techniques and not thinking my way through them (except ikkyo) and then boom. I was using strength and not energy. Very tough thing to adjust to. This is hard. Fun as can be, I love it, it's just hard. I also feel bad working with more experienced people. They can only want to continue going over basics for so long without getting aggravated with me lol. Even so they are all being nice. So, hopefully I'll start improving a bit in the next month or so.
No worries, Aikido is a journey. It frustrated me until just recently.
Seriously though you learn and pick up concepts at stages which go deeper, and at some point, even though you may not be 'fluid' at Aikido, you pretty much get the concepts of why it works or doesnt work, which basically then sets you up for the rest of your journey in 'mastering the techniques' as it were.
First 6 months was the hardest for me. After 2+ years I feel like I have an understanding with it. So hang in there and enjoy the ride. Its like a chess game - or more accurately, its like learning about yourself. A lot of chances to look inward, etc. [especially in my case where Im not fluent in the local language... Hungarian... it gives more rise to see the ego at work, etc. and then see what lessons I can learn both in spiritual application as well as technical.]
I think one things that throws many people is that they try to stick to close to understanding the technique vs. what makes it work.
What I mean is that Aikido is very flexible and has numerous ways a technique can be executed, especially given that there are numerous ways uke can attack you... especially if they dont practice Aikido.
Of course in this flexibility is a strict rule, so to speak, but kind of allows for a universal application of the technique to be fluid.
I would say that is keeping your center, taking ukes center, and mainly flowing with whats going on. Not waiting for the attack, but responding with the energy flow of the attacker as each uke has a different dynamic.
It has been fun to play with this concept mentioned above.
Big or small, you feel the 'energy' [personality] of the person, and you can basically be set up for the attack before its happening, so that you can respond as its happening and not wait for shomen to hit you, etc. [This is where many newer people make the mistake in waiting and then it becomes like karate or something where you are left to block... And unless your conditioned your body to strikes, it can hurt - as my recent foray into Thai boxing has proven to me.] lol
Sorry this is a bit wordy, long, but wanted to say I totally feel your frustration. If you read my older post you can see, specifically in the beginning, where I wanted to drop out. At some point you get it enough where you actually enjoy it. I had originally felt I would be more closer to striking arts, but things have flipped. [Might be due to age, Im not really 'old' per say, but my body isnt really up to being beat on like it was, say 17 years ago...]
Hopefully this is a bit of encouragement for you.
Dont feel bad working with more experienced people. As long as they have an opportunity sometimes to practice their stuff, its all good. [i.e. a specific advanced class, or a part of the class set aside for them, rotate out, etc.]
Its actually fun to try to share with others what you learned, and have them see if its really working or not. Sometimes a new person can show you the weaknesses in your own technique. Especially when you get someone who doesnt resist at all and is like a noodle, then techniques like Ikkyo can feel like your pushing down spaghetti. [of course there has to be some resistance and you get to teach the concepts behind things, etc., as well as have the instructor come by and correct you]
Ill add, Im a big proponent of trying to rotate where you hit practicing with each person regardless of rank. [This gives you both experience with beginners, intermediate, and advanced.] Besides this, it gives you more practice with why Aikido works or doesnt, as you are faced with extremely different circumstances. Height, gender, weight, age, etc. So you learn more about the play of energy vs. strength. [Or aptly applied strength, as strength will always be there, we are not weightless in space.] lol