Re: aikido politics - implications on training opportunities
Just a quick follow up, there are several aikido organisations in Australia that are affiliated with Aikikai hombu and vary in their approaches to exclusivity. IMHO, and you seem to have a similar view, its about finding the right teacher too.
I've had some terrific practice with David Brown Sensei (Clifton Hill, Aikikai Australia) in the past as well as others in other organisation in melbourne (though am not a member of AA nor live in Melbourne)
best wishes in the search / decision