Perfect technique is a goal unto itself, it has no attachment to winning. From the later samurai works like Hagakure, I'm sure that you are correct, the samurai would say that perfection of self is victory. However This may mean you will lose the fight.
As I said it's a philosophical debate; you can have perfect clean technique, but if you face someone who approximates your ability, who will sacrifice perfect, clean technique to achive victory, you will most likely lose the conflict. This would mean if you're fighting for something you value beyond your own existence that will be lost as well (your family, a gold metal, respect, etc.).
Now in training, this philosophy is a great one. It doesn't really matter if you win or lose your little dojo randori, nothing is on the line. You should be willing to sacrifice a small victory in order to achieve prefect technique.
The problem with Kata is that you never face the pressure you will face against resistance. Thus you will never acclimate yourself to using your technique under pressure. If you can do ikkyo a million times perfectly in kata, that has very little bearing on how you will do it once under pressure, in an ever changing situation.
Mostly, I agree with you.
However, to the best of my understanding, a clean technique is not (and also was not in the past) a goal by itself rather a means to an end, just like winning a practice Randori is not a goal. As your techniques become better, they become more practical, and you can use them in a wider range of technical situations. And much more important, if you practice correctly, as your techniques would be better, so would be your tai-sabaki, your timing and your ability to realize situations, identify options and take advantage.
I did not propose to place technique as your goal when you fight
, but practice is not fighting. I do propose to strive towards fighting in almost thoughtless state - thinking on strategy as the mind and body resolve the technical situation without conscious thought. To my understanding, this way was proposed by those who won fights, as a way of further improving their ability. I do not claim I am capable of acting this way, just to strive there. If I were in a fight, I would fight with all my being, including my Korindo Aikido knowledge, but not limited to it.
The way I am taught teaches us, that Randori/Kyoshu/"free play" is not a fight
it is another means of learning, just like Kata is. Each of those has goals, advantages and limitations. In Kata practice we can focus on the technique, we can learn the opportunity for a specific response, but our learning is limited, and we learn a certain logic of responses. In Randori we learn to adapt, to identify intentions, to move between techniques, as the level rises in Randori we also learn to counter, and to close our openings.
For some reason, it seems to me like most of you here talk of resistance but focus on "resistance by force", using superior force to prevent Tori from achieving his current technique. This type of resstance is not acceptable in my Dojo. We assume the other person is always stronger.
At my current level, if my teacher catches me acting this way, he would stop the Randori and berate me in front of the all group. Thus, I should not force a technique against resistance, I would switch to a new technique adequate to the new situation. And I should not resist a technique, I should receive it, and create an opening and utilize the opening to escape and counter (with any technique, strike or kick or throw …). True, to succeed in either I must be the technical superior (or have my Sempai training partner allow me to succeed – he too should know we learn and not fight).
It took me years to understand the above concept logically. And I admit, at times I too "forget" all about it in Randori practice and let my Ego rise, and then my Sensei berates me for "hunting techniques" or resisting in a foolish manner. In our dojo, over time, I keep training Randori with lots of beginners who have yet to realize this, and so they fight to win in Randori rather then train to learn. So I often train against a person fighting, one should do it once in a while, to remember how others fight, but if you over do it, your Aikido will not progress.
One last comment. All the above is from the perspective of an Amateur, far from being a martial artist, and lately, hardly practicing once a week (for a while). I do not have any illusions about my ability in a fight – I would do as I can, and just hope it is enough.