Xu Wenfung wrote:
... So he revamped the syllabus with very heavy emphasis on free sparring or jiyu waza. It took us a short while to adjust but we managed it well eventually...
...I have done the traditional waza method and currently very involved with the jiyu waza/randori type of training and I can see the pros and cons from two side of the coin...
I think both traditional waza and randori are essential to having effective aikido (that's effective and that's aikido). I agree with your pros and your cons.
You can't really learn the techniques unless you do traditional waza -- over and over and over -- but you can't REALLY know them unless you can apply them on the fly and learn how you need to adjust your performance of them to fit the circumstances (such as against a resistant uke countering your every move). We also practice our traditional waza with increasing resistance as we practice and improve -- first dozens of times are very cooperative, then there's slight resistance, then more, etc.
You've absolutely right that when I'm doing randori I stick to the techniques I'm most comfortable with -- that's human nature -- so at times Sensei limits our techniques in randori to the set he wants us to practice. That slows things down a bit since both people are using less familiar techniques, but it's a good bridge between traditional waza and full-out randori.