Don Magee wrote:
.... There are aikido competitions, so someone must find some value in it.....
Yeah, but there are plenty of branches of Aikido that don't do it, and it seems to be bound up with Aikido politics (as if that ins't obvious by now).
I think one advantage of cooperative practice is that by repeating the same reference points over and over again, they get burned into your muscle memory and you recognize them when they appear. This is how nikkyo came out a couple of time during push hands in Tai Chi. It's not that the pins and throws are better or worse than versions in other systems, but repeating them so often burns them into you.
And yes, I think something MIGHT have popped out during practice sparring once, but even after all these months, I am still evaluating it. Coulda been ikkyo. So it's possible.