An interesting discussion is emerging out of the current ranking systems
topic about the amount of time as well as what comprises "aikido training."
There's been the idea being thrown around that to reach levels of mastery takes 10,000 of practice. And this is really more about the pursuit, and not "reaching" a goal.
Well assuming 1 hour a day practice that comes to 27.4 years - hardly a lifetime.
1 hour a day is a good weekly average for those of us who do it for pleasure.
So, let's play around with what we feel comprises our training. If we look at just time on the mat, I think that's valid. But obviously there is so much more to aikido. Just as something like learning to play the violin - yes, there's the actual time you'd have the violin in your hands. But there comes a point where the "practice" becomes so much larger. After a point, it gets in your bones, in your nervous system, countless new neural connections and neural networks form.
I remember starting aikido in '88 at NY Aikikai, and I was training most every day on the mat, and would sometimes take two classes in a day. So, maybe 10-15 hours a week in the dojo. But more interestingly was how my entry into the world of aikido changed my life - on a daily basis, hour by hour, minute by minute.
After I began training, my "aikido" also included how I walked down the street, how I sat, how I worked. I no longer would sit on the subway, but would stand and have my hand near the vertical bar, but try and not touch it as often as possible. I would play with how my weight shifted, and learned to harmonize with the movement of the train. After not too long, I could freely stand - away from the bar - and experience the active practice of aikido by simply riding the subway.
About the same time I started aikido I began to read books on eastern thought, shamanism, and comparative religion. Through Castaneda's writings came - among other things - the concept of lucid dreaming. Those books, along with Tohei's "Ki in Daily Life" had me "training" in one way or another - almost every waking moment - and through lucid dreaming - a lot of time while I was sleeping as well.
I moved to Denmark in late '88 and began training Nishio aikido. It's interesting to look back and see how the catalyst of aikido moved me quickly into so many new experiences. I was working professionally in music recording studios, so the study, or "awareness" or "mindfulness" of aikido fit seamlessly with music and recording.
Aikido change how I rode a bike. [ and yes, I wiped out in the dark at night less than 6 months after starting to train - and did a perfect roll, and wasn't hurt at all, by an event that could have severely injured me.] It changed how I open and close doors, how I put dishes away, how I held a baby in my arms, how I related to people, how I cooked, how I played music, how I breathe, how I sneeze...
I could add more, but some of the questions would be:
What do you feel comprises your aikido training?
Over time, have you found that the principles encompass more of your life and activities?
If you played around with a calculator, how many hours would you estimate - based on your definition of your aikido training - have you put into to practice to date?
If you feel you've reached the 10,000 hours of practice needed, when do you feel that occurred?
Brian Beach made some excellent input in the Rank topic that people's experience of aikido is not universal. So, rather than have this topic be grounds for any debates on how to define it, I think it would be more productive to allow everyone to individually express their own range and their own experiences. Because from that, rather than trying to pigeon-hole anything, we can appreciate the wide diversity that aikido and its practice has brought to the world.