Re: significance to testing/belt rank?
Initially my response was similar to some here. Test and achieve rank so that you may teach or open a dojo.
But funny thing is, from what I am seeing, there is so many different ideas of what one should be required to know and do as you 'rank up' in Aikido - that it doesnt really make a difference.
One guy comes from one dojo, goes to another, and you can see a difference. Go to another country, even a different system still.
Worse is what Im seeing in my own dojo. Things are random and without purpose. This bothers me to an extent, and Im learning to 'let it go' as its not that important, but Im the kind of guy that has a list and wants to stick to it and know what it is Im tackling.
I have such a list, but it doesnt appear that it really matters, at least in my dojo. Communication about ranking isnt even there, I had to take it upon myself to find out what test requirements were - most students are clueless at what they need to do.
Funnier yet is we have higher level belts that dont know what they should have known at lower level and I have corrected them (im not even ranked yet...that I know of, I say that kind of jokingly, as it appears that some people can skip test.)
So, at the end of the day - if it were just my dojo, I would say what some of you will say...move on. But again, it does seem subjective to dojo, and has been said before that there is no commmon set requirement, per say. Though, there may be some organizations within Aikido that are more in 'sync' - which Im very sure there is.
At the end of the day, like one guy said, if you know what your doing, people will come. Doesnt matter the color of your belt if you dont know squat.