Forgive me, but some of the responses I've been reading in this thread worry me. Especially those in the vein of Chocolateuke's:
I found it most frusurating at first. sure I could block but i couldnt get in for the kill... so I just steped back then when he landed I quickly took teh two seconds I had and did a nice punch in the gut.
I'd hate to think that the ideals of aikido have changed in the minds of so many, but aren't thoughts of these nature with respect to aikido skills completely contradictory to the ideals set forth by O Sensei
and all those who learned from him?
The fundamentals of aikido as an art involve dealing with aggression in a way which is undoubtably effective, and yet does not cause permanent harm to your attacker. Obviously if your life is in danger, your first goal should be to protect yourself, but if you believe in the full realm of aikido dogma, you would never find yourself on the offensive, or looking for "the kill". Blend with the attack launched on you and redirect it harmlessly away.
In my opinion, aikido was never meant to be a competitive art, and using it for sparring, or comparisons between the strengths and weaknesses of different arts is irrelavent. Others arts are meant to hurt, debilitate, and kill, and aikido is meant to be the antithesis of all that.
Another longwinded two cents from: