Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?
The issue of rank can be complicated with it being very political in some organizations to costly in others. I don't want to get on the rank quality issue for each level. However, suffice it to say that the one weakness independent organizations can fall into is stagnation. How does the top of the organization, depending on size, continue to improve it's aikido. I have seen organizations where the yudansha keep advancing based on time in grade but don't attend seminars or do anything visible to advance their own skills. This stagnation leads to futher deterioation down the road of the quality of successive generations. At least with a large or connected organization, the top ranks are generally of significant rank skill and dedication that they continue to evolve their aikido. However, when you have an organization that splits off for whatever reason with lower ranked yudansha that self promotes the quality issue becomes visible. I know of one independent that tests only to nidan and then rank is time in grade from there forward. If you are actively training, do the time in grade, you get the rank. You can end up with 5th or 6th dans who have never tested beyond nidan and have no other requirements than time in grade. Does it or could it mean the 5th or 6th dan has nidan level skills? Absolutely unless someone is guiding this person's training. This is one of the biggest challenges in my mind that independents face-maintaining quality.