This thread is getting really interesting... I am interested in the conflict developing between what I can only describe as Budo Toughness and Aikido Softness...?
As a real beginner, I have little to add to the discussion except a couple of observations.
*Breaking someone's arm or tearing ligaments on purpose does feel like abuse to me. I don't see why this is an act of love or respect, and I think that the way in which abusive behavior "toughens people up" is really counterproductive in a dojo setting, which seems to require a lot of comfort and honesty.
*That aside, I do feel as if I am developing a new and tougher way of handling pain, and I think that's really positive - especially since our (American) culture is so pain-intolerant. Let me put it this way; I walk into the dojo and understand that I am in a safe environment where no one will maim me, however lovingly. I am also responsible for slapping out and generally working within my limits. Once I have defined unacceptable pain, I have the capacity to stoically handle the sting of a bad fall or even a repeated arm in the nose.
I guess my limited knowledge could be summed up thusly: The bruises I got learning to do breakfalls are badges of honor because I am in control and the pain was not inflicted as a show of power.
Yeah, great thread.