Re: Competition in Aikido
I believe when checking if competition is good for your Aikido practice, you should analyze this question in a very simple manner. Look at the benefits of competition, check the draw backs, and then compare this to other learning methods and see if they can replace the competition.
The main benefit people claim to have from competition (as I read in this entire thread) is a non-compliant practice, or perhaps it would be better to phrase this as having an actively resisting Uke with motivation to resist.
Another point in favor of competition is the competitor must face such resisting situations, and would be less likely to delude himself as for the efficiency of his techniques.
The main draw back, I have seen so far, is the tendency of competition to limit the practice due to safety issues. I would add to this that if the competition becomes the focus of practice, the whole M.A. can change (look at Judo: lots of techniques were removed, and in many area the only practitioners are competitors, other people look for other M.A. and some teachers will only teach those who are gifted and may become champions).
Non compliant practice, and learning to overcome resistance, can also be taught in a non competitive way. By a very good Uke who raises the level of difficulty to give Tori a challenge.
The advantage of this latter way, over competition is this Uke would set the level according to Tori level. Further, The same exact situation can be recreated again and again. The disadvantage is that one can not be sure Uke did all he could to resist the technique (but then again in a competition, one can only be sure Uke did not succeed this time).
Avoiding delusion is a more difficult issue. Some people will never have that delusion anyway. Others may hold it even after they loose in competition (the other is much more advanced, the judge was mistaken …). A proper atmosphere in the dojo and a teacher that keeps Kata practice intensity such that the success ratio in techniques is realistic (never 100%) could reduce the delusion without any competition.
Personally, I came to the realization I can find replacements for competition. As a matter of fact, I found it is more difficult to diminish my own competitive nature and try to practice Randori in order to improve my movement & softness, rather then concentrate on techniques.
But this is only my own personal feeling, anyone who wishes, can compete.