Peter and Brian:
Thank you for your honest answers and your openess. I am enjoying this discussion very much. And Erik, too.
Now back to the discussion at hand:
The special benefit is that the shodan has learned that he should probably put some extra effort into improving what he already knows.
... what special benefit do I get from points?
But, to be very specific, this is not a realm of learning where "points" hold the sole purchase. The shodan could have reached this same conclusion from sincere training, couldn't he have?
And Peter, I agree that points do give a stop before "to-the-death," but to what extent does this thug-in-the-street history represent what we are trying to do in aikido? We don't go out between schools and pick fights. I hope that wasn't what you were saying that competition accomplishes...? In addition, how can a competition with banned techniques prepare you better? I think an open mind in the face of escalating violence is of utmost importance, and I can see how focused training on competition style moves may begin to train ruts into the aikidoka's mind. For instance your reaction becomes "this is how my body is going to react because this is what it has always done" instead of "this is how my body is going to react because though I had a multitude of options, this was the best." Do you as competition-participants find this happening?
Hmm. This thread has got me thinking that i want to get with one of our black belts, give him a glove (at least for starters) and have him try to hit me. Really try to hit me. If I'm not back tomorrow you'll know I had an over-inflated belief in what I was capable of.