I think there is some need for clarification over the terms; sparring/competition/randori etc...
The Tomiki students here are getting a rather unfair bashing I think! O-sensei made clear that Aikido was not sport, it was Budo. A martial way, with serious consequences should one be forced to use the physical techniques "on the street". I saw a comment from one person here who stated that Aikido techniques are not meant to hurt. I disagree with that statement, and so does O-sensei. If you read enough of his written word you will see that even he states; "...one must be prepared to kill..." in defence of one's own life, in a struggle against the evil intentions of another.
Of course all of us would prefer a non-violent solution to every situation if possible.
In reference to competition and whether it's good for Aikido or not, I think we need to observe what it is that the Tomiki students do. There are rules and regulations governing the competitions to avoid injury like any other sport, therefore do not think that Tomiki practitioners are fooling themselves into believing that the technique they use here, is going to be 100% effective on the street. The question of whether it's detrimental or not....well if they ONLY studied the sport aspect, then probably yes. But Tomiki also deals with the complete spectrum of traditional Aikido training, just like everyone else.
Personally I feel that there is probably some benefit in what they do, as competition forces them to deal with a certain level of the 'chemical cocktail' that we would be faced with in a violent confrontation - and then they have to pull off a technique!
As for the rest of us...what do you mean you don't spar??
What's randori then? To me it means one or more ukes attacking at will with anything they want. Of course one must observe the skill levels of the students taking part, and therfore adjust the intensity and range of attacks accordingly. There is no closer way of approximating the conditions of a real confrontation.
This also then relates to training with other other stylists. Great idea I think. It's all well and good assuming you can apply Aikido principles to any situation, but why not see how they would work first hand? There are now so many open seminars and similar events open to all styles, why not pop along to one and expand your horizons a bit?
Sorry for rambling!
Come back at me guys