Re: the hakama,why cant we all get along?
Wearing a hakama (usually in our dojo after grading 4th kyu, and at seminars after grading 2nd kyu) means you can take care of yourself during a technique. You know what is going to happen and you know how to break your falls. I am always much more careful with people without a hakama (that I don't know from the dojo's I train at) because they may not know what's coming.
Furthermore, hakama's are expensive if you are, for instance, a student on a very small income. So better make sure you are serious about aikido before buying one.
But I can also understand some of the confusion about wearing hakama's at different dojo's in different countries. Some wear them from day 1, others after 2nd kyu, some after 1st kyu, some after black belt... and my personal favorite, different rules for men and women (I really don't get that one)
I also noted some confusion about wearing a black belt after grading shodan (or higher), some do others don't and I know of 1 guy who's belt colour depends on what's in the laundry.
Anyone, any thoughts on that?