Re: Belt System Question.
Putting on your hakama is part of the ritual that we use to enter the magic circle. It is an important part of the rei of Japanese budo (it begins and ends with rei, after all). If the hakama is insignificant, then why is the shomen significant? The dojo? Why not drop the dress-up act and meet in the parking log in jeans and tee-shirts? There are many arts which do this and flourish. Nevertheless these things are part of the character of Aikido. Gaining admittance into the magic circle lends a unique experience to our training and provides a fertile medium for multifaceted growth. This is a secret that the oft-mocked (guilty) Society for Creative Anachronism folks have long known.