Great to hear from you both how gradings are conducted in other dojo, given the freedoms with grading in our organisation its good to hear of the rigour and various sensei's thoughts on examination day.
Given the grading syllabus is completely freestyle after 2nd Kyu its not so surprising that sensei might like to see individualism emerge, as well as to request some techniques that haven't been demonstrated in the freestyle tanninzugake.
Probably the only real concerning aberrations are in the interpretation of weapons Kata, that can get a bit on the fruity (or static) for that matter.
FWIW, some personal thoughts on the aikido yuishinkai syllabbus. IMHO its a pretty amazing creation (the syllabbus that is ) http://www.aikidorepublic.com/aikido...ading-syllabus
I agree about the weapons kata. I'm afraid mine was a bit on the static side because I haven't been doing Yuishinkai for long and I still struggle to remember them. I've seen some of the fruitier variations though.