To often modern Aikido is not really tested against full resistance. The Shodokan school of Aikido and a few would be Aikidoka attempt to test there Aikido techniques against full resistance. They are usually ridiculed for their attempts and not appreciated for their efforts to prove or disprove a technique. The realities of a fully resisting uke makes the Aikido techniques sometimes unrecognizable, sometimes they simply are too difficult to apply. Maybe some techniques simply just don't work. Some in the Aikido world seem to have a difficult time accepting this reality. The below clip shows the Tomiki Aikido randori (toshu randori). Great to see some real resistance vs demonstration. I would love to hear from those who accept this reality and share your thoughts.
Personally I don't think there are many videos online that do justice to good Shodokan randori or shiai for that matter so I've resorted to just showing ppl who appear on my dojo step with questions.
These are the clips I tend to refer to, since they are the closest I have found that may relate to the Aikido concept of ending the conflict in an instant - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXCPE9YR5jA
and - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvfyvQIJiGo
. These were taken during actual tanto shiai matches.
My own belief is that anyone who is stuck on getting better at shiai alone will not fully appreciate what Tomiki was trying to reveal to ppl. Just like ppl stuck only on cooperative methods of practice. The reason is because certain revelations are only gained by experiencing the personal truth of an actual conflict.
From my own personal experience, the system works very well for self defence purposes. This has been repeatedly proven to me. What is seen in most shiai clips are the result of folks who are still fixated on "getting technique to work". The system really comes into its own when your technique works before your partner has even struck (sen). This however requires focused study, even if one is in Shodokan and tests technique regularly. Testing is great but too many end up "fighting" and struggling instead of just doing Aikido. This is why there are guidelines on how to achieve ability without getting into the "fight" mindset. Imho if one is reacting in shiai or in self defence then one is not applying Aikido. The result is the struggling you often see in videos and training.
Once I did a demo which included some resistance randori as seen in tanto shiai. Half of the crowd were shocked at seeing someone who was willing to not get off every technique and not look like a "master" all the time (though some did come off like textbook co-op waza). The other half (mostly Judoka) were happy to actually see Aikido function while knowing that serious resistance was present. As folks who also engage in competitive practice they had a very good idea of how difficult it was to get a "clean" technique when ones partner was fighting back. They also know that it is possible given the right mindset and timing among other things.