Re: Competition in Aikido
I think that encouraging select Aikidoka to enter grappling competitions would be a beneficial addition to the traditional training method.
Competition is not for everyone. There are a lot of complex emotions involved: Nervousness, insomnia, adrenaline dumps, mid-fight exhaustion; not to mention to the rigors of preparation and the trials of "Hey, you're fighting next" stagefright. It can be overwhelming for some, and is a true training crucible for "grace under pressure."
The closest thing to competition in most Aikido schools is testing, which triggers many of the same emotions.
I think many of those that shun competition would be surprised at what a positive, transformative experience it can be. Some competition moments of mine have had a "peak experience" flavor to them, not thinking, just feeling, responding and being in rhythm with my opponent. My last loss has inspired me to work harder and fill in the holes in my game that my opponent was able to exploit. Holes I was only vaguely aware of before the competition, but clearly brought into the light afterwards.
Kata has value. Cooperative practice has value. Resistant practice has value. As does competition. I feel that competition should be encouraged for those who seek to test their skills, but firmly kept in check as only a single ASPECT of training.
Yes, I've come across many Aikidokas that I would have paid good money to see enter a BJJ or submission grappling tournament. But their arrogance will be their downfall. If they don't want to ever feel the martial truth of spontaneous attacks with full speed, power, and intent, then they don't have to. It will be a surprise if it ever occurs, and at that moment they will either sink or swim. Competition let's me know I can swim, even when the waves are crashing.
It's experiential. We can talk all day about what competition can or cannot do for people, but until you actually experience it for yourself, it's all abstraction. Those that understand, understand perfectly.