Re: History of Shomenuchi
I think maybe instruction should be the key factor in determining footwork: A. creating a system by which students can learn a technique; B. understanding a firm reason for establishing the footwork pattern.
I know aikido people to confuse ai hanmi and gyaku hanmi, let alone why they attack with which foot. I would imagine either stance has openings, and I would not argue one over the other. I tend to like ai hanmi for the relation to aiki ken/kendo. Students need an easy way to remember foot alignment same foot forward is unually easy enough to remember. We also general attack with the stylized shomenuchi strike (attacking with the back hand while stepping forward), although we will use shomenate on occassion.
As a side note, I think Japan went through a kendo phase at some point in th [relatively] near past; could that have influenced the popularity of a sword-based stance alignment (such as ai hanmi) in Japan of which the first post spoke?