Nathan Gidney wrote:
Our school (kenjutsu) practices solo kata, and then has sets of kumitachi that take all movements from the kata and apply them in "real" situations.
Kumitachi is a drill... and has much less to do with "real" than "real".
Every japanese somewhat-historical movie I watch there is ALWAYS sparring with bokkens. Where is that sparring now? Most of the sword schools (be it Aikiken within Aikido, Iaido, Kenjutsu) have fast preset drills as most advanced exercise. Kendo is different because that is also a sport with sport rules...
How many Aikido schools are out there where people (okay let's say before 5 years of practice) do something else than "okay you attack me this way, I counter this way"... oh yes wait... there's randori and jiu-waza... but within my 6 years of Aikido experience, having seen and been taught by senseis from 5 countries (including Japan) I've never seen any sensei to encourage (even higher level students) to incorporate anything else than "a simple-single attack -> solution -> repeat" (even for randori and jiu-waza).
So my personal opinion is that most of this long and well argumented post also applies to the main training method of Aikido... the paired practice.
I'd like to quote Luis Gutierrez (One Dragon Martial Arts www.onedragon.com
"Train swimming in the water. Dry land swimming is useless. And yes, training for synchronized swimming is super hard, will allow you to navigate in water and be graceful as a fish in a bowl but it won't win a sprint or endurance race or even keep you in one. If God forbid you have a boating accident, it will increase your chances of survival but not as much as the guy who swims daily in the ocean for speed and endurance, in stillness and in motion. Sport may call for more training in endurance and "street" for more of sprinting but it's all there in you building the attributes, delivery systems, and tactics athletically…for the short run and hopefully for the long haul."
(full article at http://www.onedragon.com/article_07.html
To me it seems that the very most that Aikidoka do is training for "synchronized swimming".