And despite that, he still felt that he had to go outside of aikido to find what he considered the keys to aikido. What does that tell you?
The better question is to ask why he stayed for decades before doing it...
And I am genuinely curious to hear how your dan exams went. You've got such strong opinions about how they should be done I can't help but wonder how yours went. Were the uke's that terrible?
And in the interest of fairness, here are my experiences. I enjoyed mine. Shodan was tough as I picked a very strong uke and I think his power showed up my limitations at that time. He had a college wrestling background matches up with me in terms of size and strength. And he gave it everything he had to give me strong attacks. And since I'm a big guy all the big guys lines up for my randori and came full power. So it was a good test as it did show exactly where I was and it also impressed on me the amount of work I still had to do.
My Nidan was better in my mind -- same uke, strong attacks, and I did better on my randori. The test really solidified in my mind that I had improved in a lot of the subtler ways. Less brutal, more flowing, easier, and more fun actually. I was recovering from a partially torn ACL on the right and was in a full non-rotational knee brace which slowed me down a bit, but it was a blast.
Sandan was a great experience but it could have been better -- I had a new uke (my pal Brent had moved out of state) and he wasn't as big as me and was frankly feeling under the weather. Also, my left patella has a tendancy to subluxate periodically and it did it halfway through my test. Not pleasant. I felt like I rather underperformed because my uke wasn't totally on his game and I was in pain. My randori was a blast, however. By then the realization had hit that this was my last test and it was about over so I just went out there and went for it. I paid for that over the next few days laid up with a swollen knee, but it was worth it.
So I have positive feelings about my dan exams and I learned a lot about myself from each of them. Which is what it is all about at least in our organization.