[i]I feel that on the most part it [ranking] is a good thing, but if you have it, one needs to take precautions to avoid the competition of egos among students.
Anne Marie [/b]
Yeh, I feel the same about hakamas. Whether we like it or not I think a hakama is seen as a sign of being more advanced. In the dojos I've previously practised you had to be 1st Kyu of above to wear one. Now I'm running a dojo, but within an affiliation where you can wear hakama at any time. However I don't encourage people to wear a hakama if they are doing it 'cos it looks cool or impresses people (especially since if I had the choice I wouldn't wear one!) However I'm happy for people to wear one if they have commitment to aikido and understanding of the underlying principles (regardless of grade or ability).
Maybe the same applies for grading - those who wield their higher grade like a club have been promoted too high - such that they are even starting to impress themselves.
P.S. Colleen. Sorry to hear you don't feel comfortable with the philosophy of your club, but I suppose it gives you ample opportunity to either reinforce or question your own approach.