Re: Control in the martial arts.
My own bits culled off the top for why it's valuable to get some experience in this (and agree with the tenor of the discussion thus far):
1) Someone trying to hit you is not going to automatically unbalance themselves when they do it
2) The gulf between someone trying to hit you and someone intentionally missing in practice is ENORMOUS
3) If you aren't training to deliver strikes with balance, power and intent (meaning, really trying to hit), then your ability to respond to someone with that capability should definitely be questioned
4) When someone is really trying to hit you, expect multiple strikes and combinations from different angles - sometimes the intent of the first strike, even when powerful and balanced, is to set you up for the second, third, fourth, or . . the guy sneaking up behind you with the 2x4.
5) It's really eye-opening to spar with someone that's just as comfortable kicking your legs at one distance, jabbing at you with hands when you move closer, throwing hooks and uppercuts when you move closer and then short punching or throwing knees, elbows and stomping when you clinch (not to mention happy to throw/take you down, mount you and pound on you some more). Scary, even. But very valuable to experience if you're interested in how your stuff works empty handed in less restricted settings.
6) A funny thing - when I got back into boxing some years back what actually helped me a lot was the weapons work I'd done as it gave me a much better feel for controlling the distance and ring. As such, I could better stay outside the reach of someone with longer limbs (which is most everyone) and muck with their timing to set up my own entries into combos . . unfortunately, once they learned my timing, I'd have to adapt . . but that's its own very valuable lesson to learn, too . .
That's all for now.