Re: aikido politics - implications on training opportunities
Western organizations are certainly not immune to politics. It's easy enough to blame Japanese culture for this sort of thing, but in Australia (or the US) you have mostly Western students enforcing the cultural norms, up to and including (in some cases) calling the shihan's attention to the fact that this or that student has been "disloyal." Thereby forcing the shihan to respond even if he might have been willing to feign ignorance.
Before the internet was quite so widespread, it was relatively easy to adopt a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. I visited a dojo in San Francisco several times even though I would not have been welcome in the Boston-area dojo of that organization's shihan. It's harder now, although, again, internet use is much more common among the younger Western students than among the older Japanese shihan, so there's a question of why the students would take it upon themselves to support the restriction.
I think we have aikido-l and aikiweb to thank that this kind of restriction seems to be losing ground. When a shihan of an organization is openly promoting bridge seminars, it becomes somewhat difficult to keep students of that organization from training elsewhere.