These can go a long way in keeping sure that the techniques you do are in the spirit of the techniques you were taught.
And yes it is true that sparing only can not keep your art pure. It requires instructors with good character.
But sparing is different in MMA, bjj, judo, etc. It is most defiantly not about winning.
Nice post. I'm pretty sure I understand where you're coming from. I think perhaps the biggest problem with this discussion may be semantics. One person sees "spar" and thinks something different than another person...though I'd still argue that it (competing vs sparing) comes down to individual personality more than some formal situation. I think overall there's a fine line between what you would call sparing and competition, even if there's a very distinct difference in your
mind. I think competition is a mindset, not just a formal event and that sparing tends to be viewed as just a less formal competition. Perhaps the idea in much of Aikido is that such forms of competition are a slippery slope best avoided altogether? I've always found simply doing my best to make the concept of competing irrelevant...and that is I think what Aikido has tried to propogate and articulate.
I know I used to look at Shodokan's competition as a bad thing...in the context of "pure" Aikido. Now I re-realize it's only as good or bad as the attitudes which engage in it. I've always played sports and always done my best to win, but I've always been a good sport about loosing or winning and playing fair, etc. If I can do that in a soccer match, why not others in Aikido, etc? Now
, I might even describe that kind of competing as competing without competing...or to borrow from the famous saying, true victory is victory over the self. Long story slightly less long, I'm not convinced competing is bad, so long as the competitors maintain a good attitude. I saw a glimmer of it on Matt Hughes' face when he had Royce's arm hyper-extended (as I recall anyway). He looked up at the ref as if to say, "What do I do? I don't want to hurt him."
I personally disagree with the idea of breaking a foolish person's arm in a competition. I'd rather lose and know I had him beat. You're probbaly right that many Aikidoka take the ideal too far where self defense is concerned, but I don't think fighting is what most Aikidoka train for. It's usually something more abstract than that, though it is usually part of it. It's much like people who take tai chi for healthful reasons as opposed to self defense reasons...I think, anyway.
Thanks again for the food for thought!
Delicious as always.