First, thanks to Mr. Enfield for an enlightening response; if nothing else, it tells me that I had better learn more Japanese terminology. What, for example, is ukenagashi? And where might I find an illustrated description of it and other terms?
Next, I have also noted that Saito's forms regularly pass up on striking opportunities, but would prefer to believe that this is partly because of the (happy) absence of kill-or-be-killed intent, and partly because many of those opportunities leave one open to further counters from one's opponent, or because the path in the forms results in an even better position a move or two down the line.
Given the minor role that weapons occupy in most Aikido dojo's, it isn't surprising that many details of stance, approach, grip, etc. tend to get glossed over. But this does not speak to the validity of the style itself. Perhaps I need to work with someone with extensive experience in some other style as well as Saito's.
And Mr. Blomquist, though I do study stills whenever I can find them, most of my training has been at Iwama dojo's, heavily supplemented by videos of Saito Sensei, and moving that right foot back is not familiar. Sounds like this thread has revealed, once again, the appalling depth of my ignorance.