Re: Aikido and sparring: how to?
I've spent a lot of time sparring with Aikido. I've spent time trying to use Aikido on professional fighters as well. The first thing you'll learn is that Aikido doesn't work. The second thing you'll learn (if you keep looking) is that Aikido works perfectly, but not like you or most anyone else who is "sparring" expected.
The techniques that we find in Aikido don't come from a culture of boxing and wrestling, at least not as we think of those terms. They come from people who used weapons. The samurai weren't worried about getting into a ring and out boxing or wrestling someone, they were worried about killing and being killed. So unless you're going to take a weapon out of someone's hand, or keep them from taking one out of yours, much of what you learn in technical Aikido is not useful.
You have to understand that when you are talking about "sparring" you're describing a very specific context, one where two people are squaring up, unarmed, and attempting to show one another up (I don't mean that in a critical or negative way). This is not the context from which the techniques found in Aikido where born. So Aikido technique, at least a very large part of it, will not help you within your context.
So your options are to:
A) practice other contexts
Come up with some other ways to "spar". If you create the right context, you'll find all your sparring mates trying to copy your Aikido technique, because within the right context, the techniques found in Aikido are undoubtedly the best choices.
B) learn a new skill set, and practice the philosophy of Aikido movement within that new skill set.
Personally, I've tried both of these, and they are both very fun. I would say that I like "A" better though, as it is surprising how effective Aikido can be, when viewed in the right context.
Best of luck to you, whatever you end up doing. And good for you for sparring!!!
(p.s. If you want some sparring context ideas, shoot me an "im" and I'll give you a few)