Re: Dobson and Arikawa Sensei
I've only trained at Hombu once, so I can't say much about what goes/went on there, but here's another perspective I've found. When training out in the boondocks of Japan, where foreign aikidoka are not so common, its a good idea to be on your toes when uke. Not because of ijime, IMO, but rather because of a lack of perspective. The Japanese, generally being small people, are generally in awe of bigger people. Foreigners, particularly foreign men, tend to be among the biggest students in any particular dojo. What I think happens is that other Japanese students (and even instructors) get the impression that because the foreigner (or indeed, any big student) is bigger/heavier/taller, they won't get hurt quite so easily. This can lead to a certain carelessness, and in the kyu ranks a tendency to overcompensate and crank on technique harder than it needs to be. Sumo wrestlers have commented on this tendency of normal-sized Japanese folk to assume that it won't hurt if they hit the sumo wrestlers, because of their size.
Of course, there are always the few who, even if only subconsciously, have those romantic images of tiny Japanese men throwing around large foreign opponents, and relish the opportunity to try out their technique on the big man. (Which can all be relative; I'm 177 cm and 68 kg. Hardly big in the U.S., but here I'm considered a big guy.) Even with the best of intentions, these guys can get a little carried away.