Well you and me both. I still remember the judo chop across the throat when he thought I wasn't paying enough attention. He was team captain of one of the strongest competitive teams in Japan and when you saw young Araki take student championships several years running and then placing 3rd in London last year you know who was responsible for that. He had a talent for keeping a clear head and teaching others to do the same.
When I was talking about randori in the past few posts I really meant the Aikikai variety. One on one is significantly less chaotic then against multiple opponents. It seems in that situation the best thing to do is to use bodies to block other bodies rather than go for controlling techniques. A very different emphasis than the Shodokan variety.
I really like your description of handling the chaos in randori. Not that I ever thought I was much good at it, but one of the most vivid impressions I've ever had in my still brief training in Aikido was when you paired me up with Omonishi sensei and half way through, he kindly tried to remind me: "randori."
I was trying
; he was just too fast and precise...or put another way, I was simply too slow and sloppy. It gave me a palpable sense of the gap between our abilities...something more visceral than the simple idea that he was further along than me. The lesser degrees of resistance then gave me something to work with in terms of developing a more assertive expression of different waza.
From my meager point of view, I think one of the great assets of the Shodokan method is the structure of its training and particularly its graduated approach to resistance in randori. It also reinforced in my mind the difference between "competition" and "cooperative" resistance.
So to answer the question, I think in the grand scheme of things, randori is crucial to understanding real-time application.
While I'm thinking about it: thank you for that!