Fascinating thread, like the recent ones so much I just have to jump in. Briefly, I was shodan, but I could travel an hour each way (we're on Long Island Sound) to New Haven and to New York. My mom wanted me to come home from Japan and sent an ad for "Hakido" at the local Y. I went in and John Gawlak the physical director answered when I asked whether it was Hapkido or Aikido he said he didn't know because the class never happened and where did I just come back from and could I teach it.
I said yes if we call it introduction to Aikido! To make a long story short there were teachers and senpai's around so I knew I could always call for help. Anyway, grabbed the opportunity. I deferred to a senpai, who sent New Haven Aikikai people. The teacher was fifth kyu and I was shodan. But here's the catch... Donald was the instructor's assistant. He just hadn't been graded in ages. Not many months afterwards we went up to the New England summer camp in his wife's dad's really large car (no SUV's at the time) to watch his shodan test. He did really well, too.
During the two years the New Haven people came down on Wednesdays Donald taught Wednesdays and I taught Thursdays, so I got to have the experience of teaching but I wasn't the only one, so after running classes on and off for a little under a year, we had a solid two day schedule with two instructors.
After those two years, I had a student from Shorinji Kenpo who really liked the circular part of Aikido. Attending four days a week, he became the assistant, and his assistant was a rugby player. They loved to throw each other around, but they did their basics too. I came from dojos that emphasized basics so I made sure of that. Creative stuff? Did that too, but fortunately whenever I did, within two weeks I saw a senior teacher teach something like that so I breathed a sigh of relief. Validated!