Re: Underqualified Sensei
I'm a little surprised at some of your statements about minimum testing standards. If people are training less, why ot make them wait longer for their ranks. 4 to 5 years to shodan seems awful short to someone who took 8 years (which is on the short side of average in my group). Our minimum requirements are based on days or hours of training. My sensei even has a elaborate preparation rating system that factors in hours/week and days/month. Truth is I don't find that the drive to gain rank is that important to many if not most of the "hobbyists" I know. Most that sign up are so ignorant of the whole issue they can take more than a month to figure out that there are published exam reqwuirements.
One reason people may take the "hobbyist" lable badly is that aikido can be more than a hobby to someone even if he has no intention of becoming a professional. I view aikido as a Do, a way of life and of being. I may never become a "Master" as I am one of those people with a career, kids, wife (I sometimes skip aikido to watch the kids so that she can go train at the dojo, it's what I get for getting her into the art), but aikido is still more than a "hobby". Is a churchgoing Christian just a "hobbyist" because he didn't go to seminary and get ordained?
Which brings me top what I consider the biggest problem in developing truly skilled professional teachers in aikido. There is no framework, nor a good economic model for creating them or supporting them. The only one's who make it are the fanatics. The Shihan I am closest to still has a day job, yet teaches aikido six days a week and gives seminars on multiple continents. I don't know if he could support himself solely with aikido if he wanted to. Very few seem to manage that. Unless a 25 year old on a "professional" track can support himself and a family, there will always be very few true professionals in our art.
It's a good thing you don't have to be a "Great Master" in every field to be a professional and be able to put enough time in to become that master, or few of us could earn a living.