I haven't posted in a long time, mostly because I have found much of my time revolving around reading those of my betters.
In that vein, I must recommend the works of Gary Lever and Joe Swift. Great authors with strong training and with interesting viewpoints. Reading perhaps more for karateka than others, but perhaps worthy of at least a look by others in the budo/bugei.
Anyways, back to the point. Recently in class we have just finished a round of gradings and so myself and the next most senior (we are second and third highest under our sensei) are able to spend time working with/against each other. After working with each other on knife defences and kakie drills, it brought home how much higher I am than those I usually work with. I did things that I wouldn't have been able to with lower ranks - they wouldn't have survived. I don't say this as a boast, but rather that it shocked me. I had to readjust my own abilities, and it felt good to open up a bit and do something that would be downright dangerous with anyone else.
On reflection, it makes me think of the cycle of senior helping junior, who eventually becomes the senior. A fascinating microcosm of the universe, with shorter (or maybe longer) generations than that found in the family. And it brings home what the dojo really is - a family that trains.
The way is in the training.