I also think it's a great idea to take up some form of striking where you actually make some contact, because nothing prepares you for getting hit, like getting hit! And if we learn to occasionally eat a jab without panic setting in, we can focus on more important issues like getting inside, setting up a throw, etc. Perhaps training our body to absorb a jab is easier and more likely than devising some fancy defense against a lightning fast, uncommitted punch?
After rereading this thread I just have to agree with this somewhat...
It goes back to the reason one takes Aikido...If it's for self-defense then I am bound to agree with Mr. Crowell.
When I was a young 14 year old football player our (poor) coach had us run plays and positions, never wearing our gear....when our first game came up we got crushed BECAUSE we had never been hit before....
a good analogy as any but if you're training for scrapping purposes than YES. punch me first so i know what to expect in a real fight and I won't panic or freeze.