Re: Perhaps the tide is changing.
If you are studying Aikido, I do think it is important to understand Aikido "culture". It is very nice to go into a new Dojo, in a distant city, and still basically understand what is expected of you, and what the teacher is talking about. The Aikido "culture" binds us together, and helps us share.
I think apart of the problem is cultural also. When I started Aikido, it was more understood by the general public that when you do martial arts, you're going to wear different cloths and going to observe different customs. Now, I think lot's younger people who are new to the martial arts think of things like MMA or even Yoga. They think of wearing athletic clothing things that are "normal" and comfortable. This new modern cultural model of how we "train", puts a barrier between the new student and us.
I recently watched a movie called "Gone", it was released in 2012. It deals with a young woman who has been kidnaped and escaped. In the beginning of the movie, it shows how differently she lives her life- post kidnapping. She's very alert, carries weapons, and keeps her head about her. At one point in the movie, she leaves her house, and I thought "oh boy, she's going to her martial arts class". I couldn't wait to see the Dojo she went to, and all the people dressed gi's and throwing each other, I was in for a surprise. She did go to her martial arts class, but it was a very modern looking gym. Everyone was dressed in normal athletic clothes, they were wrestling, and boxing with each other. Then it really hit me "these times they are-a-change'n". When I was a kid, there is no doubt that she would have gone to a traditional martial arts school, but now, people envision a different kind of place and atmosphere for training.