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I know immediately when someone does combat sports but has never really been in a fight; they think fighting is just like sparring or randori or rolling and actually a lot of Aikidoka do too. I would even say that really you struggle to understand Aikido without having been in an actual fight because it is strategically at odds with western notions of fighting.
I remember a while back we (my dojo) were out drinking and discussing why our outlook on Aikido was so different from the mainstream and the conclusion we came to was that'd we'd all been rather heavily bullied; getting beaten up for us was fairly normal at certain stages of our lives and so we had no illusions and even there was among us a real sense of fighting with the spirit of ken ore ya mo tsuki. Winning a fight was an alien concept because four or five on one fights are not the kind you win.
This experience is central to how I practice Aikido and I know the same is true of all of my friends that practice Aikido and this experience leads to the understanding that all real fighting must be done with the intention of ikken hissatsu and by extention the training for that fight must be done in the spirit of ikken hissatsu.
To my way of thinking this rules out the possibility of sparring or randori or rolling. If your opponent is still standing after thirty seconds you are dead because his friend has killed you. Now the sports minded among you, and western thinking is fundamentally sports orientated when it comes to fighting, are thinking something like "Well how do you know your techniques really work against a live opponent?" Which is, IMHO, a question which indicates that you've entirely missed the point because if your opponent can get himself into such a position then either he is very good or your training is epic fail; you are training for a sparring match or randori where you'll go in there, throw a few shots or give him a bit of a push to feel him out forgetting that this only buys time for his mates to come to his rescue.
If more Aikidoka were Samurai wannabes, like we were, they would read all the war chronicles and Hagakure and other texts and they would read account after account that go like this: "Such and such wrestled his opponent to the ground and was about to take his opponents head when his allies came up and lopped his head off instead" or like this "Such and such was taken to the ground and looked to be in serious danger but just then his retainers came up and threw his attacker to the ground allowing such and such to decapitate him."
This experience is where Japanese martial arts come from; they're the two oldest stories going as far as Japanese war stories go. People training in one on one fighting with the intention of defending themselves in actual fighting, as they do when they are sparring, are training for a wet dream hollywood movie fight that in all honesty they could have run away from.
Real martial training is not to defeat a resisting opponent; it is to stop an opponent before he can resist, to defeat him before he can fight and thus to avoid fighting with all its attendent dangers. Those who read the old texts will notice a word that crops up over and over: "desperation". Real fighting is desperate, the spirit of fighting is the spirit of desperation. Training, therefore, should be desperate. This is not to say panicked, but it should be done with the understanding that your very life depends on this technique and that you must stop your opponent now not because if you don't stop him, he'll stop you, but because if you don't stop him his friend will stop you.
If you train yourself to stop your opponent now ikken hissatsu style then how can you possibly translate your training into sparring? Of what value is randori? Surely this kind of "training" simply underlines that the one skill that gives you a slim chance of winning in a practically hopeless situation is a skill you totally lack?
On this basis I actually propose a definition of martial art as one which is founded upon ikken hissatsu and that everything not conforming, those arts designed to fight single opponents over prolonged periods of time, be regarded as combat sports.