... I see two contrasting arguments made in defense of Tomiki aikido:
1) That it makes the attack more realistic.
2) That it is not realistic because: "There are too many limitations for tanto-randori to be considered 'true' sparring. As my sensei told me, 'Tanto randori is a game; it has rules.'"
Honestly, no sarcasm, can someone clear that up for me?
I wouldn't say that the attack itself is made more realistic because it is made in competition. I am positive that anyone, of any style of any martial art, can make an attack that is just as committed with or without competition involved if they want to.
I also would not say that competition is not realistic at all because of the rules; rather, I would say that it is not realistic if one is shooting for complete realism. In any martial art competition, there are rules, and whether they are for convenience, safety, or some other reason, they will still limit how real it can be. To give an extreme example- Don't kill your opponent. Although it may seem a rather obvious rule to abide by, this may not apply in a more 'realistic' situation.
I would have to say that randori does not necessarily make the attack more realistic, but the situation. To make use of an analogy, let's take a look at basketball practice (And yes, I realize that Aikido is not a sport, and that there are incredible differences between basketball and aikido, but I just want to make this better understood).
Player #1 is handed the ball. He is instructed by his coach to shoot while Player #2 attempts to prevent him from doing so. The coach says, "Go." Player #2 begins to flail his arms in the air, but Player #1 manages to shoot the ball. Both players then stop, and prepare to do the same thing again. Afterwards, they may move on to another drill designed to improve a different skill involved in basketball.
Then, there is the basketball game. Rather than simply stopping after a single shot is, well, shot, the game continues. Whether the shot is made or missed, all participants continue to play for an allotted amount of time, and do not stop until that time runs out.
The basketball players in the above analogy spent their practice honing their various basketball skills, and then used all or many of them in the basketball game. How well they performed in the game may show how good thier skills truly are (And yes, I do realize this may or may not show how good a player they are based upon many other factors involved.)
The same is true with randori. In class, we train our various aikido skills (Although, not specifically for a game, but for that hypothetical situation in life where we may need them.) We participate in various drills or excercises or just practice particular techniques over and over again, in the hope of improving our skill. Then, some of us participate in randori so that we can test those skills to a certain extent. It helps us know what needs improving, which is much better to discover after being stabbed with a rubber knife than with a real one.
When I said randori is not true sparring, I meant it if you believed sparring was something of a Free For All event, where any technique of any kind, no matter how hazardous to someone else's health may be used. I also wanted to point out the specific requirements for a 'valid' stab. Basically, I meant to convey that, because of rules, it is not 'real,' but the situation may
have been brought to a higher degree of realism than when two people take turns performing techniques (And, no, I am not saying that not participating in randori will prevent you from ever being truly ready to use your aikido skills).
To summarize my summarizations, randori is just another learning tool.