If aikido = budo
Budo = Japanese martial training
Japanese culture is EXTREMELY group oriented...I can not see how aikido wouldn't be at least fairly group oriented. Now, my main instructors are either japanese, japanese american or have spent considerable time in japan training...so to them aikido = culture...specifically japanese culture. When you transplant the dojo to another place, there are going to be things that change...maybe even important things. But in general, I see the context of aikido to be very important, and that context has a lot to do with joining a group, maintaining the group standards, maintaining the harmony of the group. The individual (hopefully) benefits from what is good for the group. I think some notable exceptions to this are obvious from fairly recent history.
Although this is a dojo who does fairly much weapons training for an Aikikai dojo (som jo/bokken almost every class) this was no problem, not even for being given ranks although weapons are specified in the curriculum from 4th kyu. I do not see that this meant that the group suffered because of the individual.
Well, if someone needs a separate syllibus because they refuse to do buki waza
a) are they really learning the instructor's aikido?
b) aren't they really lowering the standards of the group?
c) isn't there at least the chance that some members of the group will think 'why doesn't this person of x rank NOT know the material...why when I ask them to help me during test preparation do they send me elsewhere...why do they have x rank and not know the material when all the others of x rank do know the material?
I have personally been on what I now consider the wrong side of this arguement. I trained for a long time at a branch dojo affiliated with a group that had buki waza as an important and substantial part of the syllibus (especially the dan syllibus). I can assure you I have run into all of the above mentioned problems and more as a result of the branch dojo NOT 'following the group'. I finally decided that for me to learn the head instructor's aikido, I HAD to join the group, and learn material that at one time was not considered a priority. It has been a struggle (some physical problems, some problems integrating to a new group) but so far it has definately been worth it. I'll let ya know how it goes long term...but right now I'm real sure I made the correct choice for myself. And I also believe my aikido has directly benefited...although there are times when that is hard to specify in words.