I don't want to belabor this point, because I think Andrew and I are arguing the same thing from two different directions. That said, I find myself imagining a seminar where I work with yudansha I don't know the rank of (since I can't tell from the hakama). One has incredible ukemi and just seems to absolutely float through the falls, and another is a bit stiffer. Looking at this from my perspective, I don't have an idea of the relative rank of either of these aikidoka until they perform. To be told that someone is of such and such rank and then to assume that they have good ukemi is a completely cerebral process. To experience it on the mat is to feel what that rank really is.... which is where my aphorism came from... because of those two Yudansha I trained with in my imaginary seminar, who is to say that the one with the better ukemi isn't the lower ranked student? I imagine that that person is of the higher rank, but I don't know that.