Re: Grading Issues and Questions :MAD:
I think you wlil find that compared to most martial arts, aikido fees are very reasonable and less often abused. I personally have no problem paying reasonable fees to my federation. Yeah, I get recognition of my rank, but more importantly, I know that I am supporting my teacher's teachers. These shihan are not wealthy... they do not drive fancy cars and own large houses because they are the most experienced aikidoists in the world. By inspiring and teaching my teacher they have given me aikido, and I am proud to support them (within reason). I don't know exactly why the annual dues and testing dues are set up the way they are, but the money basically goes the same place, in my understanding.
It is reasonable to ask why you should pay this money, but in my opinion the numbers you quoted are very reasonable (although your annual federation dues are a bit more than ours). I suggest that if you don't feel your teachers and their teachers and your overall training experience are worth this 700-800 euros per year that you find another place to train. My teachers are worth infinitely more than that.