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.
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.
All apples are fruit, but not all fruit is apples. Sport is a form of competition, but not all competitions are sports. I think that "point" systems push the definitions of what people may be practicing into the sports parameters. That is just my opinion and if that is what you want to do, then by all means do it to the best of your ability. I do not like the generalizations made by non-competitive practitioners to lump competitive styles into the sports/points category. Competition does not have to mean a winner and a loser; I think it does mean "my way" and "your way". Do you flip a coin to see who goes first? Do you time yourself while driving somewhere? If you don't get your way, does that make you a loser? I think that is the biggest misunderstanding in this whole thread. When real connection is made by two or more participants whether in Budo or Tea Ceremony, those participants become one unit. The real test is to maintain that connection despite the competitive attitude. So really "my way" and "your way" becomes something neither of the participants has control of, a third "together way". There is a Zen koan that begins "When a flint strikes a stone, there is a spark." Without understanding the dynamic relationship between KATA (Order: Non-competitive) and RANDORI (Chaos: Competitive) that koan isn't understood. The function of competition isn't just to compete; it is the living flowers sheltered within the vase of prearranged form.
And as far as having someone "really trying to hit you", they should be doing that all the time. Speed and strength are variables that are added as confidence and proficiency increase both in uke and tori. This is not something extra added to competitive practice. While in a freely competitive relationship, the potential and opportunity for different things to occur is the only change. Nothing is banned outside of biting and eye-gouging and out-of-control behavior. I found that in the three and a half years of practice within "non-competitive" Aikido there was plenty of competition going on, all under the banner of "kata".
This is how "competition" is explained to me by my teachers. Competition is the gift given to you by your partner, a problem you have to solve. You are doing the same for them. The one who solves the riddle best remains standing. How you work together and maintain connection while in an adversarial relationship is more important than who gets thrown.