Hi Jacqui and Necromander,
Jacqui, thanks for the quote, which is a very good reminder. I find one of the most difficult aspects of practice is balancing fidelity to what I think I am being taught with fidelity to what I think I know. Slavish adherence to either seems ultimately disastrous. On balance, however, the latter seems a more serious problem in societies that exhalt "individual expression" over "rote" learning.
Undue satisfaction with small success leaves one ill-disposed to hang in there when the going gets tough. Focus on immediate results makes unattainable those achievements that require sustained effort or attention to detail.
Necromander, I think your enthusasm and interest will greatly assist your practice. Your willingness to push the edges and question your practice is also very important, in my opinion. However, you may get greater returns by postponing your experimentation.
If someone is still working through the barehand form, I think he or she would best be served by putting off weapons work. If one is still working on how to express power in the wrists and fingers, it will be quite difficult to express it properly through the point or edge of a weapon, since these are all additive skills.
In my opinion, mastery of the form takes place on many levels that usually reveal themselves only with good instruction, good practice, determination, and time. Adding complications like weapons or greater speed too early can short-circuit this process.
I like analogies with language learning. One can have quite extensive knowledge of a language's pronunciation and grammar, while being unable to carry on a simple conversation, let alone attempt jokes, debates, or poetry. Also, though knowledge of other languages is usually helpful, it can also be a great hindrance if one cannot leave behind sure knowledge of the known to seek uncertain knowledge of the unknown.
Happy and fruitful practice,