Re: live blades
Note that I'm not talking about iaido or similar practices but live blades in the context of aikido techniques. And, I recognize that I probably seem preachy here.
Many years ago, one of my instructors got it into their head that a live blade would be good training. To keep the story short, the knife wound up in my shoulder. How it happened was stupid, careless, and not directly related to a technique. It happened because sharp objects cut if you aren't 110% careful which none of you are although many of you think you are. The stupidest, but in a way satisfying, part of it is that the instructor brought the knife out again, only this time the instructor got cut.
Another teacher of mine took a bayonet in the mouth teaching bayonet / knife fighting in the military. The guy attacked off the line because he was scared to hurt my teacher. My teacher lost his teeth several years later. The grunt, well, he lost the use of his arm from the knife that was stuck in it.
I've heard at least one Tomiki person say that if you aren't getting cut with a blade then your attacker isn't trying. I would agree with this as I've been wacked many times with a bokken or tanto (controlled and uncontrolled) and I've seen plenty of "skilled" people get wacked under controlled circumstances. I once saw a nidan test, (ok, nidans are nothing special but...) where the guy took a hit across the forehead with a tanto from a yokomen strike. It was a technique / attack combination that he'd probably done thousands of times. Yet, had the strike slipped in 1" lower it could have nailed him in the eye.
I've also done the "bleed on the mat from a tanto strike to the head" bit as well. Mine was from, of all things, a shomen strike.
I recognize the concept that a live blade adds a certain pucker factor to the training. I recognize that it does have some small value in it's way. But, overall, given the price paid for even minor errors it's a damn stupid thing to do.