Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality
I guess we all have our own view of reality.
However, we can all recognise quality when we see it. The unfortunate fact is that many dojos discourage contact with the wider world; often because of the teachers insecurities.
I have heard all sorts of excuses for poor quality training - not just in Aikido - over the years but truth is it's easier to hide in an art such as ours which prizes co-operation above everything. Now I'm not suggesting that we go down a competitive route (Sorry shodokan) but neither should we be totally compliant.
This was brought home o me only last week when a friend and I did some weapons together for the first time in a long time. We just totally committed and there was a real "edge" to it - for me that was the essence of the budo contained in Aikido.
Unless you test yourself in this way I believe your quality will remain poor.