So when I say "Why are we going to agree to disagree" I mean...to what extent do you think the traditions of Aikido (your Aikido) can be changed by students without transforming the practice into something else?
Good question. To me it's important to differentiate values and traditions that are specific to the dojo I'm part of, as they are different from those of other dojos.
However...dojos at times experience massive changes. My current dojo is a good example: it started as part of Aikikai, went with Tohei Sensei after the split into Ki Society, left to become independent, affiliated with Pacific Aikido Federation, left to become independent, is currently independent but loosely affiliating with an Aikikai dojo with Iwama lineage. Each time, though certain core values of our dojo culture remained intact (philosophy of inclusion, roots in rural community) there were changes in the pedagogy, how certain techniques were taught, etc. There were huge changes but they were still Aikido.
To me Aikido is at its essence a martial art that involves a defined partner practice of a technical curriculum (the definition of the partner training contract and the curriculum may vary dojo to dojo) that embodies the principles laid down by OSensei (as interpreted by the high level instructors within each organization or by the dojocho of an independent dojo).
I have seen dojos that do Saito Sensei's 31 jo kata counting aloud in Japanese, counting aloud in English, and not counting aloud at all. Is there a point at which it is wrong or not properly transmitting Japanese culture?
Again, I have no argument against wearing keikogi...but that's purely because I don't think it's important either way and don't see any reason to not wear one in regular practice. In a koryu, it's different because of the way a ryu operates on a centuries old lineage, along with designated spiritual practices that are part and parcel of an overarching tradition. In a modern art, I'm not buying it as that important.
I agree that etiquette plays an important role in establishing the dojo's cultural norms and promoting harmonious relations between members - smoothing being the role of etiquette outside of m.a. anyhow - but the FORM it takes is less important to me than that there is some recognized formal etiquette.
My 2 cents for now....back to work