Well, i'm sick of these armchair martial artists: they really do ruin the discussions, and turn them into massive threads, where nothing is accomplished - besides a false sense of superiority, and legitimacy.
I know that you can use your kata training in some 'street' situations, and that - along with the mental health benefits - is a valuable part of a modern martial art.
But what i'm getting at, is that - ultimately - a martial art is - by definition - something that has merit when up against others with siimilar, or the same, training; and I think that 99% of aikidoka would be found wanting when up against someone with training in a style such as judo, boxing, or BJJ.
These styles might have a sportive/sparring aspect to their pedagogy, and be trained with rules - but that's irrelevant: they get results.
'You can't argue with results.', as the maxim goes.
We're always hearing how 'Aikido is not a set of techniques: it's a philosophy which underlies them.'; well if this is so, and the most significant barrier to randori is that the techniques are 'teh d4adly', then why not create new techniques that can be safely sparred?
The fact is, you can learn/improve much, much, faster, and with absolutely no doubt (e.g., 'Is this person letteing me do the technique/taking a fall for me?'), if you have some form of honest practice.
And you can refine technique, while not being competitive, through randori: I know - because I do it; I even competed (entered a competition), and relied on technique to try and prevail!
well, I'm not going to drag your thread down with it, but I don't agree with your definition of martial arts. There are degrees to everything. Martial skill is martial skill. How far you go to test and verify that skill is up to you, but there's still a certain quality of practice that makes it martial arts regardless of the degree they go to test it against fighting arts of the day.
I don't disagree that sparring and such produces faster results, more verifiable results, but that's not what everyone is after. Society affords us that. Heck aikido as an art is almost a recognition of that reality. I don't know about the whole "philosophy that underlies the techniques" thing, but I think if you're looking at the techniques of aikido for some 1-to-1 relation to fighting you're missing the point. That's not what it's about, IMO and neither is the level of testing you're looking for, by design. What makes you think it was or was intended to be?