Re: a couple ranking questions
Personally I don't think ranks really matter. It's the skill that speaks for you when you train. You might be a 1st kyu but your techniques blow or you might be a seasoned aikidoka and the last time you took a test was a 6th kyu test 5 years ago. If your goal is to aim for shodan then i'd talk to the chief instructor of the dojo you'll be training at, do your best on the mat then whatever rank he/she puts you in then it'll be your rank there.