Too bad I could not participate in this discussion earlier. I see your point and I think we actually do agree.
In the situation you describe where aite taps out early and you feel it is too early, I would hold just where aite tapped and ask to relax and see if he/she can stretch a bit further. Sometimes it already hurts, sometimes you notice aite relaxes even more and indeed can stretch more. Main point is when aite taps, you at least stop. This is a case of trust, the base on which Aikido is built.
So, in principle it does no matter why aite taps out, but when you are more advanced you can judge the call aite made and perhaps help him/her face fear/stretch. But never continue after aite taps out, it is not your call.
The level of trust you're asking for must be earned, and should never be assumed. Could not agree more Katherine!
Can we please differentiate here. Let's look at it as two sides of a coin. On one side we have the obeyance of the rule no matter what. You will find I have agreed with that already earlier in the thread.
On the other side of the coin we have the times uke is tapping out for the reasons I describe. A fear of something which isn't actually happening.
Hidden injuries etc. fit in with side one. As I agree with side one then there is no argument.
Side two is what I point out and ask for inspection of. Yourself and Robin seem to recognise what I am saying.
When I say not to follow the rule in these circumstances that doesn't equal carry on past the point of the person tapping out. It means go no further but don't let go. If anything relax the pressure whilst still holding. This gives the person time to realize nothing has happened yet and the cause of the imagined danger is theirself. Thus they learn. Now you will have really earned their trust.
When they know you know the difference then the trust grows. They know they are in safe hands.
I have seen quite a few characters over the years who suffer from this phenomenon and usually sit back and watch for a while. Let's take nikkyo. A person does nikkyo and this fellow goes down hard or awkwardly with a whelp and nage immediately lets go. The uke complains and blames and nage feels bad and apologetic. Now this fellow moves onto the next partner and a version of what happened before reoccurs. I watch him work his way through the class or find an excuse to stop. Meanwhile there's two or three confused students all now scared to do nikkyo. It's quite amusing.
I now call him and go to apply nikkyo. He's already on the way down and pulling away both. Tapping his leg. My hold is relaxed, my attitude is calm and reassuring, my smile is warm. I point out nothing has happened yet and he relaxes. This opens the door to show him what a good nikkyo is and to show him how to relax in the face of it and then onto how to relax in the face of a not so good one also.
Those watching learn what was happening. This fellow now is busy telling me about his past times and what was done to him. Everyone learns and everyones happy doing so.
Trust is earned.
In these circumstances hands on is the solution, not a quiet word for he is not afraid of quiet words. He is actually looking for someone who can correct him in a good way to a good result and improved performance.
I will qualify this with one thing. If you are not able to differentiate or have any doubt whatsoever then let go. Call an experienced person or teacher to check what's happening.
However, in these types of situations if it is not handled but merely given into all the time then trust will never be earned and you won't see that student again. Hands on, no letting go, good solution.