Thanks for the kind words David. I'm thinking a lot about this. I hope that what I'm about to write doesn't get me into trouble.
I do have partners that are much better than I am, and one to two rank levels ahead of me, where the shite / uke relationship is very honest (in my opinion) and intimate. One of these relationships is no longer a training relationship, because the person left aikido, for some of these very reasons mentioned here. This is not to say that there weren't times where I would follow uke's role for his sake, or that he wouldn't follow uke's role for mine. And I don't think David is saying that should never happen. I think he is saying that we should explicitly recognize when it is happening, and design / implement / discover / participate in training methods that do not fall into that category. My friend feels that aikido training is basically a setup. Generally, we know the attack, past a certain level we know how to thwart the waza in question.
This means that two competant people walk a very thin line. How do I keep the waza honest, and yet have an uke at the conclusion of this waza? Or a shite? Because if I do every part of the technique perfectly (at least using an architecture that includes being comfortable with popping uke), there are times when uke will have to get popped to have an honest edge to the waza...and there are times when shite will get popped by the attack or a follow up as well. And let's be real...even using enough control to minimize how much damage results from a landed strike is in some way dishonest.
Ueshiba Sensei himself made a very important point at one time.
It was around the year 1939. Since Admiral Isamu Takeshita was president of the Ueshiba Dojo, Sensei was asked my the Admiral to five a demonstration in the Saineikan before the Imperial family. Ueshiba Sensei first refused his request saying, "In aikido the winner is decided in an instant. There is no way your opponent will get up and attack you again. If he does, it's all false. It cannot possible show such false techniques to the IMperial family." But since Admiral Takeshita insisted Sensei could not refuse him and ended up going to the Saineikan.
This delima is a constant source of vexation for many ex-aikidoka I am sure. I also am willing to struggle on being vexed, and being happy having one or two partners where I can be pretty darn honest...honest enough so that I progress, but not quite so honest my body gives out.
And my instructor's aikido is scary enough that *I* won't be the one pushing for *too* much honesty from him. That is one side of this equation...there are consequences to seeking too much honesty, whether we like to admit it or not. I could say the same about quite a few instructors out there.
***From An Aikido Life (02)
by Gozo Shioda
Aiki News #73 (December 1986)