My instructor is Yoshi at UC Santa Cruz, from Japan. So he’s pretty old school when it comes to Aikido.
Warmup, stretch, fall practice, pay respect to “O-Sensei” and other standard things occur in a class. But let’s discuss practicing a parrying/escape technique
For practicing techniques though, we are instructed to do something, eg grab the instructors/senior student’s arm, and they show a technique. Now I would (almost) never grab someone’s arm with both hands, and I certainly wouldn’t stiffen my body up, but that is what we’re supposed to do. Then we all partner up and practice it.
Imagine I am supposed to start pushing my partner, and they have to parry my pushes. Nothing wrong with that, but if someone starts pushing me in real life, I need excellent timing in order to parry that. How would I get that timing if we’re working in a sterile environment where my partner and I never really mean to fight each other?
Now in Judo class, fyi my Instructor is from Korea thus the future Hapkido reference, by matter of practice since we’re fighting each other, eventually we’re gonna try to grab each other’s wrists/forearms. There exists a very simply Hapkido technique to break my opponent’s attempt to grab it. Seems useful, but really they’ll just try again, and again, and again, and unless I stop them, they’re going to throw me. The thing is, how do I turn this simple technique for breaking someone’s grab attempt at my wrist/forearm into an advantage? How would I ever be able to do this without practicing it on a live opponent who is trying actively to defeat me? That is issue one with Aikido. The other issue I have is without partner grappling/sparring, the workout is somewhere around 1/3 effective physically and I fear much worse mentally. The mere act of grappling an opponent works out muscles one probably never knew existed, it’s a whole body workout, and the act of trying to escape an opponent works out your mental strength, are you able to will yourself through that last bit so you can escape and/or take advantage? Only practice will make you so strong.