This speaks partly to my post, so I will add some comments. First, I think we all can acknowledge that sport fighting is not within the paradigm in which aikido is contrived. Rules, forced engagement, single combat all point to a different type of fighting - not that we cannot participate but I understand the different rules of engagement. However, the notion that sport fighting is the only form of competition we have available is not accurate. I think the spirit of the thread is directed at solutions for improving our aikido. As I said in my previous post, I think a competent uke applying competent fighting skills is the primary tool we have in aikido for improvement. I present this stance for both training in empty-hand and weapons techniques.
If my partner can cut me faster than I can cut him, the solution does not lie in decreasing my partner's intensity and skill, but improving mine. The difference in participating in this type of training is that I need to differentiate when I am learning what to do and practicing doing what I know.
Actually I agree with what you are saying.
My issue is that too much free sparring early on, particularly with weapons, can teach you all kinds of bad habits. There is a need to learn things such as physically how to cut properly and where to cut your opponent that high-intensity free sparring does not teach and can actually give you misleading information about.
I do think this kind of training is invaluable when practiced occasionally. And in general, I am all for progressive and helpful testing of your partner's technique.