Don Magee wrote:
I think it is also important to explore why you are doing what you are doing, what benfits you think you are getting, and what actually improvements you are getting. Its simple if you set objective goals. If I say I want to be more effective in the ring, its a easy objective to test. If I say I want to move more fluidly in 3 man randori, again this is an easy objective to test. Where it gets complicated is in saying things like "I want to have more ki", or "I want to win a street fight". These are ill defined terms.
I'm lucky enough to have trained in numerous different methods. I've set objective goals for all my training and found the best way to reach those goals. Number one goal for me has always been the ability to use my abilities on a fully resistant skilled opponent while faced with a high stress load. Sparing or Competition is the only way (short of getting in a fight at a bar) to test this. Having tried traditional methods and failing to reach my goal, I found other methods which allowed me to reach this goal ....
Well, to each his own. For me, I find martial arts serendipitous: Whatever reasons I had for starting a new art (or in the case of Aikido, returning to one I'd done before), I always get something different out of it. Heck, I first signed up for karate to stop my college roommate from badgering me to take karate! He lasted three weeks, and I am still plugging away after 21 years. Go figure.
On top of that is the Filipino concept of "Play to learn," meaning you actually learn quicker if you put less pressure on yourself and have fun doing it. That's why you see references to "silat players;" it's not that they don't take their arts seriouly, they just learn better if the pressure is off.
So again, it all depends on what works for you.
If your goal was reaching a higher spirital path, I'd suggest going to church more and sparing less (providing your religion has a church) ....
You DO have your flame proof undies on, right? Just checking. <runs for cover>