NOTE: The art I train in (Nihon Goshin Aikido) is not Ueshiba's art, but also falls into the category (not the art) of Aikido. I often get folks from other styles asking why we don't spar/roll/randori more often. I was teaching a class last night that happened to have only one student, and he managed to demonstrate the issue quite nicely. This student has been training with me for almost 2 years. He is currently a yellow belt (progression is white-yellow-orange-brown-black). He has currently learned 15 of our 50 core techniques (though I've exposed him to some of the others by way of explaining the limitation of other techniques). So, we did some free-flow work. I'd step up and give him an attack (grab an arm, grab and pull him in by the lapels, take a swing at him, etc.), and he had to defend. As I would expect, his movement isn't nearly perfect, but he does get the job done. Here's the issue: he quite rarely managed to use any of the techniques he'd learned. What he did was apply the principles. He actually stumbled into some technique he didn't have yet, because they are (obviously) based on the same principles. Therein lies the quandary. The more free-flow work we do like that, the less he learns to execute cleanly. It's good practice in problem solving and applying the principles (far better than I'd have done at his level, IMO), but doing that too often would leave him working off that small part of the curriculum, and having to invent bits to fill the gaps. So, we work most of the time on technique, to fill his toolbox and give him better execution than just stumbling upon those tools. I've often thought about moving faster through the curriculum, but then all they learn is techniques. By slowing the pace (minimum of about a year to yellow, 18 months to orange, 2 years to brown), students have fewer individual tools, but get the principles faster, so are more able to execute against intent, and even against resistance (by being able to flow to where it isn't).