Re: Why do we use so much grappling in Aikido?
I grapple and it was helpful for me to come to terms with this process in my aikido since static grabs simply don't do much for me personally.
Grappling gave'/gives me a context in which to work through things and to develop real skills and to have experiences in a dynamic environment.
It is an important element for me.
That said, I am using that base to "move away" from grappling and to try find something of a higher skill which kinda negates grappling...I am working on that.
I don't, however, understand how you can reach this understanding without understanding the physical struggle of grappling and be able to deal with it....so, it is still an important part of my training and I think it always will.
As far as Aiki goes though...I don't believe that grappling does much to teach those skills and if you don't keep grappling in the right context of your training then it can actually hurt you in your development.
So, no....it is not necessary to grapple to learn aikido. I believe Aikido is about transcending this process..however, I also believe that training context in the form of grappling, kicks, punches etc are important to understand if you want to have a holistic view of budo.
There are plenty of peope out there that practice aikido without this that I think are great human beings, are learning what they are want to without this aspect...and are better for it...so YMMV on this subject.