just a few question huh
In answer to you question about Iaido and Aikido I will say you are lucky. Most Aikido dojo's don't practice any weapons and those that do limit themselves to Aiki weapons. Iaido teaches some very good movements with a sword that lend a great deal of dicipline to aikido (which many styles lack IMHO). Jodo is a much more reality based weapons system that the Aiki jo and as such it teaches a bit more of what you can really do with the stick. The Downside to adding these systems into aikido is that while they compliment Aikido neither is very Aiki and depending on which ryu you are studying both are likely complete arts in and of themselves; which requires you the practicianer to bring these disparate art together yourself. The place this becomes most difficult is in the stances of the weapons art compared to Aikido (for me it's Jodo). As a practicianer of both MJER Iaido and SMR Jodo I can say that the philosophy behind these systems is not at all in line with aikido. It has taken a while for me to reconcile Koryu philosophy's with what I learned in Aikido. More and more lately Dojo's are incorporating weapons into their cirriculum, this is in general a good thing though the basis for the weapons techniques is very important; Saito sensei's weapons are probably the most well know and the most established but there are other valid systems. There are also unfortunatly folks who are just jumping on the boken/jo bandwagon and that can be dangerous. I was lucky every dojo that I've practiced in makes weapons a pert of the learning pretty much from day 1.
Hakama is pretty much a Style specific thing ASU puts folks in Hak early, Aikikai has them wait until Shodan. There are variations on this theme, Yoshinkan doesn't have anyone but the senior sensei in a Hak (I think).
The reason for the vast differences in what aikido looks like is that while O'sensei did create the art he did it over a large period of time. Different students at differant times learned differant things. Also he never codified his art...he left that to his student...All of them. So what you have is people who learn aikido while it was evolving from the creator. There was a vast difference in his technique in 1940 vs his technique in 1960. Couple that with the fact that grappling arts are much more body specific than punch/kick arts and you might as well be trying to judge Southern BBQ they all taste good but it comes down to which one tastes best to you
[Edited by Tony Peters on December 27, 2000 at 12:05am]