Hi All (John, I see you lurking),
Amir just wrote a fantastic post for this thread, but I'd like to point out an additional factor. There are people teaching aikido in new and different ways all the time. Some of them not very highly ranked in terms of the major aikido organizations. One example from my training this past weekend is Ellis Amdur. We all know of him from his Koryu background, but he is a yudansha in the Aikikai as well. He has had the opportunity to train with many of the best aikido instructors in Japan, as well as some not so well known. Because he moved on to other things for a while, I don't believe he is very highly ranked. But his overall experience in martial art in general and aikido in particular should be unquestionable.
Someone asked a person who was at the seminar this weekend "what rank is he?" Personally, I think this shows a fundamental flaw in how we look at aikido and it's instructors. Ellis's seminar was simply beyond issues of rank. It was beyond issues of style. It was beyond the sort of formulaic training we see and participate in 90% of the time. He worked on showing us how to organize our bodies, how to flow from one technique to another, how to work with resistance, how to put what we've learned from our own styles into practice in a free form environment with varying levels of resistance with atemi. With people that in many cases, barely knew each other, if at all. With no injuries that I am aware of, and no bad feelings (even when I had a brown belt kicking my butt
I am beginning to think that people like David Valedez, Bob Wolfe, Ellis Amdur and others are often more on the forward edge of aikido than some of us stuck in the mud of organization, affiliation, and rank. A governing board of aikido would have no place for people like that, and it would be to the detriment of Aikido and each and every person who practices it.
The frauds will eventually take care of themselves...self-selection. It is inevitable. But the un-affiliated gems...where will they come from once Big Brother is watching the hen house???