Michael Fooks wrote:
Unfortunately that's my experience as well. What I'd most likely to see is the setting of a culture that allows and even expects failure from nage. I remember teaching a couple of classes where I told the group that if as nage they're not getting clobbered from time to time it means either uke was going through the motions or nage wasn't testing to see where their limits were in terms of timing, entering etc. Unfortunately I just got a bunch of blank looks back.
The logical extension of this idea is that in order to practice to a level that you'll be ready for "real" fighting, you'll not only fail frequently, you'll also get injured frequently. If the punch you get clobbered by doesn't damage you when you don't get out of the way, it wasn't a very real one - same for attempts to break limbs, damage joints, etc... For this reason, there's a definite limit to how far I want to take realism in training. I have enough injury trouble as it is.
I agree though that if uke goes down every time and you never get hit or reversed, the training is too easy, too basic - at least for my taste. I wouldn't say that in an absolute sense though, as many people seem to get what they are looking for out of training that you and I might find wimpy, and I know there are people who find my preferred level wimpy.
I would also prefer more room for creativity in training than many or probably most Aikido places endorse. I like to experiment a lot - even with things that may end up being dumb or unmartial - and I would rather change technique and try something more appropriate in an instance where the one I tried to do isn't going to work than force it or just quit and start over. I don't mean degenerating into goofing off or ignoring the instruction, but sometimes. I had pretty good latitude to do this at my home school, but it seems to be an exception among schools I have visited.