Paula Lydon wrote:
~~Why have a ranking system in Aikido? Most other MA hold certain info. at certain ranks and you can't practice that material unless you achieve that rank. But in Aikido we all practice the same things, over and over, nothing is withheld (as far as I can tell) and you're free to ask any question at anytime and get material. Everyone just pracices from exactly where they are--which is all you can do anyway. So...what's the point?
Can I ask you a question? Why are you a member of the Boulder Aikikai? Because Hiroshi Ikeda embodies all the martial virtues as you see them, or because you happen to live in Boulder and it is the 'best' place to train, or because you have never really thought about it and it is the most convenient location, all things considered.
You might well live out your entire aikido career in Boulder and never need to take a grading. And this would be fine: you know yourself, your Sensei knows you, you learn the 'secrets' as they come, so there is no need to worry. Probably aikido 'globalization' is the problem.
To my mind there are no secrets in aikido, but there are degrees of understanding which come with the pace of training. You can artificially mark these degrees of understanding with some public affirmation, or clothe students in white belts, coloured hakama, or whatever, or simply ignore rank altogether and make no differentiation at all as to experience or technical expertise.
But I have seen students work very hard to earn a rank, and also students who mature into the rank they have been given. You give a promising student a shodan with the admonition, "Now live up to your rank", and they do so.