Re: Changing perspective
I train in little old New Zealand. Some of you won't actually even know where this is on the map - I certainly always had to point it out when travelling. Every year our little old club used to fly over a top Japanese Sensei who would do a 2 day seminar. The Senseis are always lovely people.
Then one day our style afiliated with Aikikai, this was a Japan based decision, primarily for their top ranking persons to have a formal certificate etc...etc...
We were then told that my next grading for Sandan would cost something like $500 - this was mostly to get the certificate from Aikikai. Of course I said that is stupid, I don't want one of their certificates, have never needed one, and don't think we need them at all. Eventually the club said they would pay for it, I told them not to.
The point is this - what changes as you get higher rank? For a start it becomes more political, who you know, how well you get on with people - that sort of thing.
The early grades upto Shodan are where the true enjoyment is at, the true enjoyment is in the practice, that is all that matters.