Anne Marie Giri
I have to completely "ditto" this. I have heard stories where Yamada Sensei failed everyone. My first winter camp with about 25 dan (shodan through sandan) tests Yamada Sensei only passed a couple of people on "merit" which he announced to everyone. The remaining testers after Yamada Sense spoke with all the sensei involved later on. The testers found out that they passed but only on "recommendation." And, they knew it, too. Yes, it's embarrasing, but if your sensei does not fully prepare you, but tells you that you are ready, then how do you know your not?
I agree. I think most people would like to think that their sensei would never do anything embarrassing to themselves, like send up an unprepared person to test.
One of Yamada Sensei's articles said "people start to believe their own shit." Meaning some times dojo can be so isolated that they forget what good Aikido looks like. They have been training in their own little circle for so long that they simply no longer know what a dan rank should look like, and they start to believe that their sub-par Aikido is good enough for dan ranking. I've heard stories of Sensei arguing with Yamada Sensei and the Tech. comity when a student had failed the dan test. I think sometimes some schools are so isolated that they honestly believe that their lack-luster standards for dan should be accepted by the Tech comity.
Adversely, my dojo consistently hosts other dojo's (in and out of the USAF) for friendship training. We are encouraged to go see other teachers, we invite other teachers in. We are encouraged to go out and seek shihan instruction. (Especially the 2nd generation Aikidoka. With the loss of both Tamura and Sagano Sensei so close together, I think it amplifies the importance to seek this generation's instruction while we still can. No one lives forever, no matter how much we love them and want them to.)