Re: ki testing...emphasis on both uke and nage getting stronger
I have a few moments while my videos process...
1. Competition in itself is a evolution... Something about Darwinism... The idea is to recognize when you are being successful and how you achieved success. Over time, your successes lead to a change in your action for the better. To address the stigma... Yes, you can become over-focused on "winning".
2. Success is a relative concept; I agree with Ron here. Some success in definition does not contribute to evolving superior behavior.
I think, in general, Mary's comments are aligned with aikido's teaching paradigm, which is to avoid over-focus on behavior which obscures or retards the learning process. However, I think we also need to eventually stress our training environment to include distractions and occlusions so we may practice applying our knowledge.... if we wish to claim our training is "practical".
In the beginning we learn to apply "ki" to a cooperative, willing, and non-resistant partner. As we progress we remove the shackles around our partners to create a more lively interaction; this also increases the risk of failure. I think it is fair to say that some aikido people are more concerned with success than failure and choose not to train to a point of failure. I think it is also fair to say that some aikido people are more concerned with improvement and choose to increase the stress of their training. I do not recall reading a book about any athlete or person of inspiration that said "I wouldn't be here today if I haven't won at everything I did." Michael Jordan once remarked that while we (his fans) remembered every game he won with a buzzer shot, in fact he lost more games with missed shots than he won.