1. Standards: We definitely have a minimum standard for each grade, but there is quite a spectrum within grades from a technical point of view.
2. Does it matter? Nope, I do my own thang
3. Grade chasers: never really last so after 3-4 years they're gone anyway, so why worry
4. Blue collar response? None, it's their problem not mine, only affects you if you let it.
I don't consider myself an aroitor of aikido or even hold any of the answers to "true" aikido, so the only areas where I do hold strong opinions is
i) Personality cults/cliques and any abuse of students resulting from such nonsense
ii) impractical techniques taught as self-defense. Quite happy for the more esoteric aikido techniques to be taught, they're fun to learn, but if they're misrepresented as "defence", yes I do get annoyed.