Re: aikido and competition
Ah...the age old question: why not compete? The idea in Aikido regarding competing, I think, comes from the idea in Budo that a technique deals with life and death in an instant. To give an example: to compete your best, you must try your best. This in mind, if I am attacked, I don't know how well i could keep from injuring my attacker. I can dislocate many joints and cause spiral fractures...even kill a person by smashing their head into the ground. The real skill in the techniques which do these things comes in NOT harming your attacker. So, if I and a friend are truly trying our best, we are encroaching upon that space in the mind where we may easily harm someone in a life-long way. Not all Aikido training is a prescribed set of moves. I tend to make it a point to include as much spontaneity as possible. The only thing I know in these cases, is that I am about to be attacked.
Joe Lewis, based upon your accounts, sounds rather full of himself and I'd be curious to see him put his money where his mouth is, but that's a very shalow part of me saying that. The truth is all that matters is that I do my best every moment of my life, and that is essentially what Aikido teaches us. The martial aspect of Aikido is derived from Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu, which I recently had the pleasure of witnessing. This was based on Samurai warfare...and interestingly enough, it looked like Aikido to me.
All this said, there are many forms of Aikido. Some are "softer" than others, but all have something usefull to offer.
I recommend experiencing as many forms of Aikido as possible.
To give one example of a karate guy who thought Aikido was weak: a senior student to me was practicing the corner drop technique with a mid-level punch. The karate guy kept pulling his punch making the technique not work, so my friend kept saying he needed to punch more sincerely. The karate guy finally came full force and found himself flipping in mid-air. It was unexpected and kind of scared the guy, according to my sempai. Competition is a tricky word, and there is a fine line between one group's definition of it, and another's. Aikidoka always compete with themselves to do better each moment of their lives. This is the nature of AIkido.