Re: Howdy from a Chicago Aikikai student.
This also is my first post although I've been lurking on this site for about a year. I've been practicing with a Seidokan dojo for about 3 years and prior to that, I practiced off and on with Ki Society, Aikikai and Hombu styles (never testing) for twenty years or more before I picked it up again with our university club. My first introduction to aikido was also through a stage combat class which included epee and sabre practice as well as juggling and tight-rope walking. The instructor was a brown belt in a Yoshinkan/Hombu style. I can't believe that was 25 years ago! I more recently trained as a competitive figure skater and udefuri choyakus have a slight tendency to look like waltz jumps!
I dislike testing because of the ego problems it creates although some wiser than I would say that developing an ego problem or "shodanitis" (I've seen it happen to others as early as "fifth-kyuitis") then becomes a challenge to overcome as in, an opportunity to get over one's self when you've become you're own (and everyone else's) worst uke. There's a T-shirt I saw in a catalog that exemplifies this improper use of ki: "I now have scientific proof that the universe really does revolve around me!" I hate to see it when the color of a belt becomes that "scientific proof."
One way our club keeps members humble is by inviting the tae kwon do club in to practice and we all leave the dojo with greater levels of mutual humility and respect.
So, what is your lame, lame, lame excuse for not testing? Mine is a misguided sense of perfectionism. I have tested and promoted twice although I can tell of a college test session I was in once many years ago (I declined to test myself but participated as uke) that went so poorly that the sensei walked out in the middle without comment. No comment but w:-0w! was he mad! The test was not only for rank but for a semester grade and I never found out if those who chose to test failed the class. I got a "c" after doing some extra credit work.
I just signed up for AikiExpo... all three days... (what have I gotten myself into?) My sensei said I should be prepared to take some hard breakfalls. I've grown use to our university's nice, soft and bouncy gymnastic floor and those zebra mats usually tear my feet up. Yet, as the little, blue engine sensei once said, "I think I can... I think I can... I know I can... I know I can..."
Anyway, I look forward to communicating more with you, Drew and other aikidoka here.