Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality
Its really hard to train with other groups when you'e had a certain amount of background with vastly different experience. This is especially true if you've trained with someone who has very in-depth experience and great teaching skills. Many dojo do not have the luxury of a true Teacher. I equate it to Average Dojo and Professional Dojo.
The Average Dojo is run by some junior nidan or sandan who's spent their entire training career attending class 2-3 times a week, and maybe one or two seminars a year. The got out of aikido what they put in, and that is reflected in their ability to be dojo cho. Due to relocating, scheduling conflict, The Organization's insistence, or whatever, they were prompted to strike out on their own and open their own school. There is nothing wrong with this, people a free to train as they wish and attend the type of training they are comfortable with. In the 90's, Fumio Toyoda focused on this issue in his AAA by creating an in-depth, multi-year, uchi deshi program designed to basically train dojo-cho....as a type of dojo-cho QC program.
Now if a student wants more in-depth training, want to be serious, they have to pay for it. The Professional Dojo (I don't necessarily mean a dojo cho who's only income is teaching...mine isn't, though you wouldn't know with the number of classes we do) will be run by a teacher who has dedicated a lot and made many sacrifices. There is going to be a lot of sacrifice for a serious student as well. The serious student is going to likely have to travel to find a great teacher unless you are lucky to be close to one. You will have to give up things in life and make compromises. The expectation being that the sought after teacher has done the same. So what I guess what I'm saying is, don't settle for the most convenient dojo if it doesn't satisfy the level of training you are after. Go seek out a teacher you want to learn from and make that commitment. Hopefully you can make it work! If not, then its decision time. I've had friends who, after tasting a higher level of training, could not make the return to their original school work for them and went to a totally different style of martial art. Moving is tough, dojo closings are brutal....I've gone through that. I hope you find something that works for you!