The sparring you describe sounds very interesting. How do you handle kicks since they seem to be very widely used outside of Aikido.
I've been fortunate to learn how to handle kicks from the beginning in aikido - I've talked to some people where their school doesn't teach it, or makes them wait until nidan level, etc.
Some people feel that if a fight does happen, the attacker may well know another art, so it makes sense to know how to deal with it in an aiki way.
1) A front snap kick can be handled similar to a munetsuke punch with a tenkan as in kotegaeshi. The technique can vary according to where the leg is when grabbed - if still extending you can latch onto it and move forward to off-balance the person since all their weight is on their back leg, or if it is being retracted you grab as in kotegaeshi. You can then use the blade of your forearm to press down on their leg midway between ankle and knee, or slip your right hand under the leg, removing your left hand which moderately strikes the chest in a sort of irimi/kokyu-nage move, sort of an up-ending circular move.
Safety's important, and at the same time it's actually better for uke if there is some moderateness to the speed rather than doing it slowly. The flow makes for a nicer fall.
2) Sidekicks/back kicks are easy to work with.
3) Roundhouse kicks are actually pretty easy. We use an entry and grab that are hard to describe, but it twists the uke around and he does a front fall. (There's actually a shiho-nage move to use on a roundhouse that can end with nage leaning backward on the ground with an elbow strike to the groin - harmony(?)
4) Sometime the easiest are the reverse-spinning kick guys - real pretty, but unless they're Chuck Norris, an aikidoist has little problem. Plus the last thing they expect is someone to ENTER into their space.
Sorry it took me so long to respond. I missed checking this thread.
[Edited by AikiTom on July 10, 2000 at 12:00am]