Re: Non-aggressive way to test ability and level of understanding.
Many people seem obsessed with only the Sensei testing people and how dare anyone else do so. Hw dare we even think we are good enough to test others etc. They quote that if you test each other it is as good as the blind leading the blind.
I say do not blindly follow someone and give them godlike status without question, or at least testing their abilities. If testing each others level of ability and understanding is done openly and honestly, and you even ask first so no underhandedness, there should be no problem with this.
In my 30 plus years of Aikido and travelling around the world, I have met Shihans who could not fight their way out of a wet paper-bag. I have met Shihans who have had multiple failed marriages, who are misfits and outcasts, who prey on the female students like predators. I have met Shihans who just beat the heck out of students all the time to somehow prove they are good.
I certainly would not blindly follow and worship like some do. Get real people, test and choose wisely. Look for diamonds and don't just blindly follow the pack. Quality not quantity I say. I choose mentors and guides of quality who can positively add to my learning, who can laugh and toss you away like you are a piece of paper in the wind. Ones who are like trying to grab water as they are so fluid. Ones who are content and at peace with themselves and life. Ones who add value to my life journey, ones who don't need to harm injure or hurt to perform proper Aikido. Good luck all.