Re: significance to testing/belt rank?
Your posts read like the writing of a very bitter man who only sees things in very black and white terms.
What makes you think everyone always trains with only fully compliant partners? You've got a lot of balls to make these sort of sweeping generalizations. As I was initially learning back when I remember being helped along the way. Not much resistance but enough to help me understand what I was learning. But as I got better the resistance became stronger, faster and more subtle. I guess you never had that experience. Or else you're so bloody sure of what you "know" that you've never given anyone the chance to get you there. No, it doesn't happen right away, but over time the resistance starts to increase as the higher ranks begin to understand your ability to handle the increased resistance and intensity. To the point where the higher ranks quite frequently have classes where we go all out. Right down to combination punches, attacks, etc.
I must say I find your sweeping generalizations absurd, small minded, and indicative of your not being anywhere long enough to find a group of people willing to train with you at intensity. Not to mention somewhat insulting to those who train very hard. You like to paint the whole of Aikido in terms that you've apparently long decided is the way of all Aikido. And then you start writing like some pissed off old fart grumbling that no one does it the right way.
And while I'm typing, what makes you think the board on a test isn't capable of seeing when an uke is "giving it up" for a nage? When we test we're also evaluting the uke's performance on the test. And we *demand* attacks of intensity and sincerity commensurate with their ability. No, I'm not going to ask some nidan to go out on a test and try to decapitate a gokyu. But if the person giving the gokyu the punch isn't putting something into it and really trying, well, we'll have them sit down and we'll call up someone who will. And that expectation grows with each and every test. I've seen tests that haven't gone very well because the uke was trying too hard to "help out" but just laying things out there.
Of course there will always be politics. There are politics in each and every organization. How much varies. But you seem to see things only through your rose tinted glasses. So everything looks the same to you and I submit it is more about you than the world outside.
Or at least it is at total odds with my experience, goals and training within my group. Sure, there are some who are no where near as effective as others. Just like everywhere and everything else. Obviously not everyone is as fire breathing effective a uber martial artist as you. But it may surprise you to find out that many people within aikido *do* train with resistance, intensity and the notion of martial effectiveness in mind.
There are lots of people in Aikido. Some are doing stuff that looks no more martially viable than Yoga (thanks for that comparison Toby). But others take it *very* seriously on *many* levels. Everything from understanding o-sensei's doka to understanding the notions of blending to understanding ki to understanding that a technique doesn't matter if its pretty if it doesn't protect you.
Man, you remind me of the guy with the shirt that says "There are only 10 people in the world -- those who understand binary and those who don't". There are a lot of shades of grey out there. And a *lot* of people doing aikido in all sorts of different ways.
And quite frankly you're not going to see much in the way of full on total resistance at seminars. Heck, I've been lucky enough to get invited to training in koryu arts that are usually closed to outsiders (fringe benefit of doing swords for a lot of people). Even in those events there is precious little in the way of active resistance -- people are too busy learning how to do new things. The harder training comes later once they're integrated the lessons into their skill sets and they start working on it privately among those they can trust to do it with enough control not to cause injury.
Argh, enough. Like I said before, rank it what it is. And it varies. It seems you like to be on the outside looking in saying everyone else is stupid. Must be nice to have such a strong hold on the absolute truth and reality.
Now where are the ignore controls...