a shodan after 10 years does not really have to look very good but should have the rank anyway
Hanna, I can't quite grasp your logic here - someone who has practiced for less should be held to a higher standard than someone who has just turned up for a long time? Try extending this to any other profession/activity please and postulate what the long-term effects of this program would be.
James, well, where to start other than say "wow". I really wish I could be as righteous in my knowledge of what a man whom I've never met intended when starting a martial art (I think you'll find this is actually a commonly accepted blanket term which includes aikido) and feel confident enough to bring others into the light of my determination. (now that was sarcasm - see the difference?)
Now let us look at your last missive
"Regarding character" - this type of post is why aikido is often considered a cult. Of course you make decisions on others characters, no matter how brief the association. However, to extend the analogy of choosing your spouse to include your fellow training partners in a martial art just leaves me rather concerned.
"regarding technical skills" - try the search function on training and grading, you will find nearly everyone has accepted that gradings may have to be modified for physical problems.
"regarding other benefits" - could you cite me some references for these other benefits other than anecdotal evidence? The reason I ask is that (again if you use the search function) you will find that many are dubious about some of the more inflated claims and I was hoping you could give me some third-party corroboration for your viewpoint.
Yours in the spirit of scientific inquiry