Re: Real aikido question
Lineage tells you where the knowledge came from, rank tells you how far that person progressed in acquiring that knowledge. You would not want a person to do surgery on you if they only had one year of medical school and learned the rest from pay per view tv or video tapes.
Just because you are an independent school does not mean what you are teaching is not effective or valid. But at least be honest with your students, let them what you know and where you learned it. A teacher that will not be honest about rank and lineage has something to hide.