I don't have much to comment about the first part of your post, but I have some questions about the above section.
And how do you incorporate competition into aikido? You say you compete in aikido, but from checking out the dojo you have listed in you profile I see that it is and Aikikai (ASU) dojo. I guess I had been expecting a Shodokan dojo or the like. What does it mean for you to compete in aikido?
I think one can "test" one's aikido without competing or completely letting go of the type of interaction aikido is about. That sense of creating a connection with the other. I personnally am a fan of increasing the focus and intensity of attacks, doing more jiyu waza and working with less cooperative and less predictable ukes. But I try to stay away from turning it into a competition, where, by definition, there is something to win and something to lose. Not because this will eliminate competition from my existence, but because I feel it will help me train myself in such a way as to make me more at peace with everyone and everything around me.
At Emory, we compete as a means of evaluating our ability to execute a technique, or priniciple, or whatever. In a more true definition, we are checking ourselves for competency executing a technique, or priniciple, or whatever. We may play judo, we may set up a sparring scenario or we may simply allow nage a number of techniques to apply against uke without uke's prior knowledge. All of these situations provide some means of critically evaluating technical skill executing a technique. I am convinced good aikido works in these scenarios, so if our aikido breaks down...keep training I suppose.
I love that kind of training because I get to see which students excel at striking, or grappling, or being obstenant, or being aggressive, or whatever - I learn something just watching...
Competition has a winner and loser because we choose to recognize those classes. Nobody ever got an award for 42nd place in anything, but it is a class distinction just as first, second, or third place. Competency is a descriptive quality which draws upon recognizing one's ability to [at minimum] adequately perform a qualitative function. I strive to achieve competency in everything I do; if I excel at something, I may choose to compete against others to evaluate my level of competency.
Who would ever want to be uke if we distinguished winners and losers in aikido?